VisitBritain research revealed more overseas visitors go to theatre than to live sporting

Published on : Thursday, November 7, 2013

visitbritainThese 2.8 million visits include 14% of all overseas holiday trips, whilst visits incorporating a live sport event make up just 4%.

Overseas theatre-goers are also surprisingly high spenders, injecting £2.7 billion into the UK economy during their trip – over double the £1.1 billion spent by traditionally high spending live sport visitors. The average spend by theatre-keen visitors whilst in the UK is also high at £983 (a regular visitor spends around £600), which could include theatre souvenirs, programmes and refreshments, along with dinner and hotels. Further insights reveal that theatre-goers also generate higher spending than music tourists (festivals and live gigs), at £2.2bn across Britain.

With Sheffield Theatres leading the wins at the recent 2013 UK Theatre Awards and its production of The Full Monty heading to London following a hit tour of the UK, and the award-winning Wicked heading to Southampton, the popularity and diversity of regional theatre is clear. The Royal Shakespeare Company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, just announced record results for 2012/2013, with total income increased by 30% to £62.6 million, achieved through 75% growth in box office receipts.

Based on VisitBritain’s latest regional data, 24% of holiday visitors who stay in London will go to the theatre, resulting in an estimation of just over 2 million international tourists overall enjoying a show in our capital last year. However, whilst theatre as an activity for overseas visitors is still predominantly London-centric, the West Midlands and North West regions of the UK show particular promise for theatre tourism interest. Of overseas holiday visitors staying in the West Midlands, 9% go to the theatre. Likewise, 9% of holiday visitors staying in the North West during their trip were theatre-goers.

English-speaking countries dominate the top 20 markets for highest volume of visits incorporating a trip to the theatre, musicals, the opera or ballet. The USA leads with 426,000 visits, followed by Australians with 209,000 visits.

When studying propensity to include a theatre visit, at 24% the Israelis – one of the smaller markets for Britain – are the highest proportion out of all markets that fancy tapping their toes to the like of The Lion King, followed by Australians (19%) and Brazilians (19%).

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