New research from VisitBritain shows the power of the Premier League in driving inbound tourism among overseas football fans, with more than three-quarters of those surveyed intending to visit the UK during the next two years.
Chinese football fans surveyed showed the greatest intention with 92 per cent intending to visit the UK within the next two years followed by India, 85 per cent and the US, 80 per cent.
VisitBritain’s ‘International Football Research’ also found that the Premier League had a greater pull for tourists than the top leagues in other countries.
Two-thirds, 66 per cent, of those who had travelled to watch a football match in the UK saw a Premier League match, making it the most popular.
This compared to 39 per cent who had watched a top league match when they had travelled to watch football outside of the UK.
The results echo additional research by VisitBritain into ‘dream activities’ for potential visitors across 17 international markets which showed that watching a Premier League game live was a dream activity for one in four, with a similar proportion keen to watch a Premier League football match in a pub with locals.
VisitBritain director, Patricia Yates, said: “This research cements the huge pull that Premier League football has in attracting international tourists to Britain with people keen to visit the clubs of their sporting heroes, not only experiencing the excitement and atmosphere of a match but associated visitor attractions and destinations.
“It demonstrates the Premier League’s potential in driving regional tourism by encouraging visitors to explore different parts of Britain, and football’s effectiveness in driving growth across the low and shoulder seasons, supporting local economies.”
Manchester United was the top team followed, with 70 per cent of Premier League followers in the markets surveyed supporting them.
Premier League interim chief executive, Richard Masters, added: “At the Premier League, our aim is to put on the best possible football competition and to engage fans and communities both locally and globally.
“We benefit from having hugely popular clubs and players who attract people to our competition and to the UK.
“We put a lot of effort into connecting with our international fans, and that will again be highlighted this summer when four of our clubs visit Nanjing and Shanghai in China for the Asia Trophy.
“Nothing quite beats the excitement of a match day, being inside a full Premier League ground and seeing a match in the flesh, so it’s very encouraging to hear that so many international visitors want to experience football in this country.”