Here in the UK, we are lucky enough to host some of the world’s major sporting events. Not only is this great for those of us that live here, as we get to see some world-class sports right on our doorstep, but it encourages sports travel and is also a huge boost to our economy.
Sports enthusiasts from all over the world flock to these shores every year for Sports tours to experience these events, and with each trip, they need hotels to stay in, restaurants to eat at, bars to drink in – it all adds up to give a healthy boost to our businesses.
We thought we would dedicate this blog to looking at the impact sports tourism is having on the UK, and what sort of events are drawing people over here.
How important is Sports Tourism to the UK?
Sporting events are a huge contributor to the overall number of tourists that visit the UK. Figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that over 1.5 million people travelled to the UK to watch a football match in 2019, and while they were here those visitors spent £1.4 billion. This is a huge amount of money, from just one sport.
These figures have been growing steadily for over 20 years, and they show no signs of slowing down as sports venues, travel companies and luxury hotels all look to capitalise on this ever-growing market, creating bigger and more inventive packages to offer their customers.
Which events are the most popular with International Sports Supporters?
One of the great things about UK sport is just how varied the events are. People from all around the globe can find an event to come and watch, and they can guarantee that there will be plenty of choice when they do. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:
The Premier League
It’s an obvious place to start for a football trip. The Premier League is broadcast to 212 different countries, with a potential audience of 4.7 billion. The figures are just astronomical, so it is no surprise that football breaks are so popular with people all over the world.
You can see the appeal; get a group of friends together and select one of the many sports travel packages available – usually including international flights, accommodation and match tickets for the team of your choice. These trips and packages often include a range of different hospitality options – all geared up to convincing the tourists to spend a little more money and make it a truly once in a lifetime experience.
As the league features players from every corner of the globe, you often get sport tourists coming to see players from their home nation. Son, at Spurs, has seen them gain a huge Korean following, whereas under Wenger, Arsenal gained a lot of supporters from France.
Cricket – England Home Tours
Speaking of sporting events with a huge international following, Cricket is one of the most watched sports on the planet, with the Cricket World Cup (hosted in the UK) attracting more than 2 billion viewers in 2019.
That doesn’t happen every year, but England will host tours against international opposition every summer, which attracts a huge influx of sports fans. Tickets for the Ashes matches, in particular, sell out months before they take place, with only hospitality packages available to purchase without entering a ballot.
Many cricket grounds have a hotel attached, or at least very close by, so it makes it an ideal option for sport travel..
There are three main horse racing events that attract a huge amount of visitors from abroad – although they are admittedly mainly from one country.
Irish fans flock over to these shores to take in the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the big one – Cheltenham Festival. It’s here that the UK and Ireland compete for the Prestbury Cup – although Britain hasn’t won it since 2015, a trend that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
While horse racing does have some appeal in mainland Europe, especially France, it is the Irish contingent that really makes horse racing the incredible tourist attraction that it has become.
It may sound strange to list American Football as one of our featured events in the UK’s top sporting tourist attractions, but the popularity of the London Games have really caught the imagination of Football fans all over Europe, and in America.
The excitement of seeing live NFL matches doesn’t seem to be wearing off – London is the only city in Europe that has regular annual fixtures, and travel packages are available from countries all around that wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to see one of these games. With tailgate parties and events throughout the city in the week leading up to it, it’s a great event to get people to really experience London.
Formula One – The British Grand Prix
Finally, the British Grand Prix, at the ‘home of racing’, Silverstone, is another huge sporting event that attracts visitors all over the world.
A massive 401,000 people attended across the weekend in 2022, making it the best attended British Grand Prix in history, and there is hope that the popularity will continue to soar as more effort is put into all-round entertainment and more extravagant hospitality packages.
This is another event, right in the heart of the UK, that foreign visitors will base a UK sport tour around.
A Popular Destination for Sports Travel
You can see why the UK has become such a popular destination for sports tourists, and we have barely scratched the surface there – there is rugby, snooker, athletics, golf, tennis, boxing, UFC and many more sporting events to choose from. If you plan your trip right, you can tick off a host of sports and make it a trip you will remember for the rest of your life.
If you would like to book a hospitality package at an event in the UK, get in touch with us today and we can help you find the perfect package to suit your needs