More fans will travel on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia than ever before, according to Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy.
Official ticket-inclusive travel packages went on sale in the UK, Ireland and Europe to the general public this week, with Lions Rugby Travel – the official travel company - confirming that they have more than 26,000 intentions to travel from British and Irish rugby supporters for the nine-match rugby spectacle, taking place in June and July 2013.
“Based on the phenomenal take up so far, interest in the tour is only going to get bigger and bigger,” Mr McEvoy said.
“To have already received more than 26,000 advance enquiries from rugby fans really keen to follow the tour is impressive stuff from right across the UK, Ireland and Europe,” he said.
Mr McEvoy believes the huge popularity of previous British and Irish Lions tours down under provides a clear opportunity to boost Australian tourism, in particular from the UK and Ireland, but also in generating greater domestic travel activity and dispersal across Australia.
“The British and Irish Lions is one of the great sporting tours and presents fantastic opportunities for Australia tourism, as thousands of rugby fans flock to our country and follow the Lions all over the country, experiencing for themselves why there is nothing like sport in Australia,” he said.
Tourism Australia is working in partnership with Lions Rugby Travel, the official travel company for the British & Irish Lions on a series of joint activities to promote the major sporting event and Australia as a destination in the run up to the June/July 2013 tour.
Fans have a choice of more than 80 tour itineraries as well as, for the very first time, the opportunity to build their own itinerary online.
The British and Irish Lions will play nine matches during their six week tour of Australia, including three Test matches and games against all five Australian Super 15 Rugby teams.
The three Test matches in 2013 against the Qantas Wallabies will occur in Brisbane (June 22), Melbourne (June 29) and the final test in Sydney (July 6), with the tour also featuring games in Perth, Canberra and Newcastle (combined NSW and Queensland Country XV) on 12 June.
Mr McEvoy said the popularity of the British and Irish Lions Tour, together with the future Ashes Test cricket series being hosted in Australia provide significant benefits for tourism, both in terms of additional overseas visitors but also as a platform to promote destination Australia more widely.