After the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Will England see a scrum of visitors?

After the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Will England see a scrum of visitors?

Fans throughout the land were left crying into their beer glasses when host nation England failed to get through the group stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. But tourism chiefs could be equally disappointed, with hopes that an increase in post-tournament visitors unlikely to be realised, according to the World Travel Market 2015 Industry Report, released today (Monday 2 November) at WTM London.

Pre-tournament expectations were high that the event, held at 10 English host cities and the Welsh capital, Cardiff, would put England and the UK as a whole in the international spotlight, building on global publicity generated by the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

However, World Travel Market 2015 Industry Report reveals two-thirds of travel executives don’t believe hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup will lead to an increase in visitors to the UK.

Only 35% of industry executives expect to see an increase in visitors to the UK following the 2015 Rugby World Cup. This compares to 60% who anticipate an increase in visitors to Brazil following the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and 43% who expect France will welcome more visitors after hosting football’s UEFA Euro 2016.

In general, although the majority (84%) of travel industry executives expect countries that host major sporting events to see an increase in bookings, the consensus is that one-off events such as World Cups and the Olympic Games are better at attracting visitors than annual events such as Grand Prix, with six in 10 believing that a large-scale one-off event is of greater benefit to the host country’s tourism industry.

On balance hosting a major event generally has a slightly negative impact on a consumer’s decision to visit that destination.

For example, there is a decrease in demand of net-3% among Brits to visit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a result of the city hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The number of Brits inclined to visit France as a result of UEFA Euro 2016, is down net -9%, while the number inclined to visit Mexico as a result of the country hosting its first Formula One in 13 years in Mexico City this year is down net -14%.

The two destinations that are putting people off the most most, however, are Russia, host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (-16%) and Qatar, which is hosting the event in 2022 (-21%).

A steady stream of negative publicity about the decisions to award the two countries their respective hosting contracts, amid claims of violations of human rights; bribery and corruption allegations; the withdrawal of sponsorship from high-profile organisations and the arrest of key FIFA executives, have all impacted.

The European Travel Operators Association (ETOA) has long warned that high-profile sporting events do not bring the rewards they promise.

ETOA CEO Tom Jenkins said: “Large sporting occasions are often touted as having two tourism impacts: during the period of the event and a ‘legacy’ of increased demand thereafter. Both are usually misunderstood.

“It is too early to say what influence the Rugby World Cup has had on the tourism industry.  Anecdotally, demand for London is dipping and so groups of supporters have been absorbed relatively easily.

“This has occurred partly because there has been an absence of the disruptive hype we saw during the Olympics. As for a ‘legacy’ of increased demand for the UK as a destination, we can be confident that there will be none.

“There never has been from such events, nor is there likely to be. People watch sport because they are drawn to the sporting event. This interest ends with the final whistle.“

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “Rugby World Cup 2015 has seen record demand for tickets and we anticipate an extra 466,000 overseas visitors came to Britain during the tournament – more than any previous Rugby World Cup.

“Tournament visitors are expected to contribute up to £869 million in direct expenditure to the UK economy.

“It is a truly global sporting event attracting significant volumes of visitors from Australasia, Africa, North America and Europe staying up to 24 nights across the 11 host cities and regions, including places which wouldn’t necessarily be on the immediate radar for many of our overseas visitors, including Gloucester, Leicester and Exeter.

“Overall, Rugby World Cup 2015 is expected to contribute up to £2.2 billion of output to the UK economy and VisitBritain is working hard to capitalise on this global exposure and inspire legions of future tourists and investors from around the world to visit and to do business in Britain.”

World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “There was huge excitement in the build up to and during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, hosted by England. The question is whether the publicity surrounding the event can be ‘converted’ into bigger visitor numbers going forward.”

The World Travel Market 2015 Industry Report polled more than 2,000 senior travel and tourism industry professionals and more than 1,000 UK holidaymakers (all of whom had a minimum of a seven day holiday in 2015).

-ENDS-

About World Travel Market London

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

Almost 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

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WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa.  www.wtmworld.com

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