Tourism officials in Australia are hoping that upcoming sporting events in the country will attract more Brits to the land down under. The number of people arriving from the UK in Australia has continually dropped in recent years but the Lions and Ashes tours are hoped to bring in the British and boost the economy.
The rugby and cricket tours are two of the most high-profile sporting events in the world and Tourism Australia has said that the Lions and Ashes tours could generate as much a AUD $500 million into Australia’s economy.
Australia’s British in-bound market is its third largest, after New Zealand and China, but arrival numbers have dropped in the last few years. "It's no secret that numbers from the UK to Australia have fallen these past few years," said Andrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia. "The forthcoming Lions followed by the Ashes series is just the fillip we need to help reverse the trend.''
Tickets to the British and Irish Lions Tests sold out 15 minutes after going on sale last month. The same sell out rate is expected when tickets for the Ashes Test series between Australia and England go on sale in November. The last Lions tour to Australia in 2001 generated around AUD $100 million into the national economy and around AUD $150 million is estimated to be made during this year’s tour.
Hotel bookings from cricket lovers in the UK are reportedly up this year according to Neale Herridge, director of global sales at Accor, Australia's largest hotel group. "For the Barmy Army and other cricket followers, the tour down under is not just about cricket. It is about escaping the English winter for warm sun and touring the country," said Mr Herridge.