10 June 2013

Sydney awaits Lions' arrival as rugby fans boost Australian tourism

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Sydney's tourism industry is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the British and Irish Lions rugby team next month to provide a much needed boost to the regions' tourism industry.

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The British and Irish Lions arrive in Sydney next month.

The Lions began their first tour of Australia in 12 years this month and will arrive in Sydney with an expected entourage of over 30,000 fans.

The last tour in 2001 was in the middle of a different economic time, when the British pound was worth much more to Australian business than it is today. The global financial crisis has taken its toll in the intervening years and the Pound has declined has much as 40% since the last tour.

However, with 30,000 fans representing a 50% increase in the number travelling with the team and the Lions arriving in Sydney during the winter - traditionally a quieter time for tourism - hotel owners and other tourism operators in the region are waiting to capitalise on their arrival.

Current numbers of British tourists to Australia are down compared to last year but the arrival of the Lions fans is expected to provide a generous boost to tourism numbers as well as Australian coffers; conservative estimates but the overall economic benefit at AU$150 million (£91 million) and fans are being encouraged to visit other Australian tourism destinations between test matches.

Lions Rugby Travel, the official company behind the Lions tour, said many of the fans travelling had other reasons to follow the team besides the rugby, with many having family and friends in Australia.

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