Australia may have been ultimately defeated in the dramatic and enthralling test series against the British and Irish Lions, but following Saturday’s 16-41 thrashing, they do at least have something to celebrate – a welcome boost to their tourist industry.
The nine-match tour brought thousands of overseas visitors flying into Australia. In fact, the total number of British visitors surpassed the 30,000 mark, while the tour and test matches generated a total of 306,000 attendees in total. The overall impact to the Australian economy is thought to be around AUD$150 million, or around £90 million.
Tourism Australia’s managing director, Andrew McEvoy, praised the influence of the tour on tourism across the country. He said, "We've had three years of slight decline (in tourists) from the UK, but the Lions fans are great tourists - they watch a match, they party and they have fun."
The newfound strength of the Australian dollar, the result of the country’s recent mineral boom, has cooled British interest in travelling to Australia, as it no longer represents such great value once you arrive. However, Lions fans were not to be deterred, even though the pound only bought around AUD$1.65 during this tour, compared with the AUD$2.70 that it was worth during their last tour down-under, in 2001.
Despite the strains on fans wallets, they remained in splendid spirit and voice throughout the tour, and Graham Rowntree, Lions assistant coach, suggested before Saturday’s that the team owed the fans a performance, and a result, to remember, as a thank you for their loyal support. He said, "there's upwards of 40,000 people who have spent a lot of money to come over here and support us, That's a significant factor that spurs us on, not to let them down." And let us down, they certainly did not.