In its report Football Tourism Scores for Britain, VisitBritain says that Premier League grounds Old Trafford and The Emirates Stadium were the most visited with 109k visits, with Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium in second place and visits to London’s Wembley almost doubling since 2010.
The North West sees the biggest proportion of international tourists at football matches with illustrious clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool attracting fans from all over the globe to their games. The region sees one-in-10 international visitors attending football matches compared to one-in-20 visitors in the North East.
Football and hotels
There are a number of hotels dedicated to football tourism with Manchester's Hotel Football and Liverpool's Shankly Hotel open for business, but this hasn't stopped hotels local to football clubs from cashing in on the sport.
Manchester’s Trafford Hall Hotel offers a number of packages that include match-day tickets and vouchers that will get guests discounts at either of the Manchester clubs.
Caren Clancy, general manager at Trafford Hall, told BigHospitality that although they are only guaranteed 19-matches per team per season, if the teams qualify for the Champions League it adds more revenue from international visitors.
“It affects us very heavily, we’re always full for Champions League games,” she said.
VisitBritain chief executive, Sally Balcombe, hopes that the tourism board’s Football is GREAT campaign will influence future international football tourists.
“Our ambition is to convert the global interest in football and the Barclays Premier League into even more international visits to all regions across Britain,” she said.
“We’ll do this by continuing to target consumers in key markets around the world with our Football is GREAT campaign and showcasing the key destinations that are home to the Premier League clubs, such as the North East, North West, Midlands, London and Wales.”
Attracting international fans
Football clubs themselves are becoming more and more accommodating to their international fans – not only are they touring the continents and forming lucrative commercial deals, they’re setting up other initiatives to attract fans to support their clubs with foreign-language Twitter accounts proving to be an easy way to communicate with their international fan-base.
Richard Scudamore, executive chairman of the Premier League, said that although commercial tours are popular, they don’t compare to coming to Britain to see live Premier League matches.
“The Premier League is proud of its role in promoting Britain across the world. There are 1.2 billion people across the globe who are fans of the League and we want to engage with as many of them as possible,”he said.
"In the last 18 months alone we have taken the Barclays Premier League Live experience to Johannesburg and Mumbai, while in July in Singapore we held our most successful ever Barclays Asia Trophy.There is though something special about being part of the live action on a match day and it’s very encouraging to see more visitors coming to Britain wanting to experience the Premier League."