Rugby’s Coming Home as Britain Scores Another Try for Tourism
As rugby’s premier event reaches its finale, VisitBritain is ready to engage with the rugby world as England prepares to host the Rugby World Cup in 2015. The event will add to a blossoming £2.3 billion sports tourism industry which sees around 3 million overseas visitors each year enjoying some sort of sporting event in the UK.
After playing a part in the team which eventually won the right to host the next title decider, the national tourism agency - working closely with the Rugby Football Union on the winning bid – is looking to take advantage of yet another major global sporting tournament to showcase the UK to the world.
The Rugby World Cup has continued to grow in stature since the first tournament took place in 1987 and is now the third largest sporting event in the world, sitting behind only the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. It draws in a TV audience of billions of people over a six week period in more than 200 countries across the globe.
Former England heroes Lawrence Dallaglio, Will Greenwood and Martin Corry joined VisitBritain and VisitEngland at a gala event in Auckland marking the beginning of the journey to the final at Twickenham in 2015. Along with world’s media, they had a sneak preview of what fans and players can expect to see in 2015. The event took place inside the world’s largest inflatable rugby ball, specially lit up as a giant St George’s Cross.
Laurence Bresh, Marketing Director at VisitBritain said: “We have shown the world that we have the ability and infrastructure to host some of the greatest sporting tournaments and much of the world agrees. With London 2012, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, we have the perfect opportunity to highlight every region across the UK and build on the legacy of what will be a golden period for sports tourism in Britain.”
Paul Vaughan, Chief Executive of RWC2015 said: “Hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England is a great honour. It is the World’s third largest sporting event and that brings a lot of responsibility to ensure that we deliver the best tournament possible and a strong legacy. New Zealand has set the bar high which means our job is more challenging. Sport and large sporting events are always well received in Britain and we expect to see large numbers of overseas visitors coming in to enjoy what Britain has to offer as well as the Rugby”
VisitEngland ambassador and legendary rugby player Martin Corry said: “The 2015 tournament is a fantastic opportunity for England. Not only because we intend to emulate New Zealand and get to the final as the host nation and hot favourites, but because it is a chance to showcase all that our country has to offer. With matches taking place throughout England - from Newcastle to Southampton - the Rugby World Cup means visitors from around the world will be able to enjoy our incredible countryside, seaside and cities.”
Nearly two million overseas visitors watch sport at venues across the UK each year, taking in the atmosphere at famous rugby grounds such as Murrayfield in Edinburgh, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and at Twickenham, the home of English rugby.
Sporting visitors spend an average of £900 per trip, almost twice as much as what the ‘average’ overseas visitor would spend. This suggests that tourism in the wider sense can play a pivotal role in supporting Britain’s economy and provide it with a much needed boost to generate more tourism jobs over the coming years