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Published on : Monday, November 25, 2013
They are the typical sports enthusiasts, full of zest and life. They’re loud, they like a lager, they’re (usually) winners and they’re over here. England’s big band of noisy cricket fans known as the Barmy Army has landed on Australian shores.
The rowdy fans, famous for their trumpeting, chanting and sledging of the Aussie cricketers, will give tourism around the nation a major boost.
Hotel operators, pub owners and tour companies are wringing their hands at the prospect of more than 50,000 English fans, including at least 15,000 Barmy Army members, in Australia for the summer of cricket which started with the first Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane on Thursday.
On conservative estimates, the fans will provide a total economic benefit to Australia of more than $300 million. That’s double the $150 million from 30,000 overseas fans credited to the Lions rugby tour earlier this year.
Capital city hotels are already citing a whopping 95 per cent to 98 per cent occupancy rate during Test matches. Cricket Australia reports that ticket sales have also been made to fans in New Zealand, Dubai, Canada and Japan. In the most recent nationwide Ashes study in 2006-2007, the Test series and one-day matches contributed $317 million in direct expenditure, including $88 million in NSW alone.
Dean Brostek, a sports marketing analyst with Repucom, said big events like the Ashes, the Lions rugby tour, the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and the Australian Tennis Open brought many benefits.
”They bring tens of thousands of people into the country who spend at restaurants, pubs, accommodation and attractions,” he said.
”But apart from the significant economic value, they bring vibrancy to cities. The cities hosting these events come alive, so there is a real community benefit. ‘The cities can also use the events strategically. The Ashes will obviously be shown back in England and the cities can provide imagery that will encourage future visitation.”
The chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Ken Morrison, said visitor numbers from Britain had been affected by weak economic conditions over recent years. But we are now seeing signs of a recovery. The Ashes will act as a catalyst for additional visitors from the UK, giving them an extra reason to plan a trip Down Under,” he said. “Many will attend more than one Test as well, which will spread their spending around the country.”