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Ashes series to deliver Australian tourism boost
The commencement of the 2017/18 Ashes series is set to provide a further boost for the Australian tourism industry.
Being broadcast in 130 countries around the world, the 140-year-old contest is cricket’s pre-eminent event and most recognised series between just two countries.
This summer’s series is also expected to attraction an estimated 30,000 English fans, 14% more than visited in the same period last year.
Commercial brands with an interest in the series, from brewers to restaurants to online betting companies will be cashing in on the likely $400 million boost to Australia’s gross domestic product, as fans travel over for one, some or all of the Tests in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and the holiday season Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
Based on analysis of previous Ashes, they are likely to stay an average of 30 days and spend more than $10,000 a person.
Series naming rights sponsor, financial services firm Magellan has paid an undisclosed figure of up to $5 million a year, for the naming rights to Test cricket in Australia for three years, with an option of a further two.
Magellan Financial Group’s Executive Chairman, Brett Cairns, acknowledges that brand is relatively unknown outside financial markets, despite having $50 billion under management and several funds listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Cairns told Guardian Australia “we hope to raise brand awareness beyond the financial industry and expand our business with self-advised investors,” adding that it has meant a big jump in their marketing spend.
The company was approached about sponsoring Test cricket last year after the Commonwealth Bank declined to renew its $50 million four-year sponsorship deal with Cricket Australian beyond last season.
With CommBank putting its money into grassroots and women’s cricket, Cricket Australia followed the lead of the England and Wales Cricket Board and split its naming rights into smaller packages. Others brands picked up the one-day games and shirt sponsorships.
Cairns added “it was presented to us, we did the work on the demographics and Test cricket had the best overlap in terms of household income and other metrics.”
The five-day Ashes Tests remain the game of the purists and the major money spinner for Australian tourism, partly because the contest runs until January.
Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan explains “the Ashes, like the British and Irish Lions rugby tours, are tourism gold for Australia.
“These are visitors who stay longer, disperse more widely and spend well, both during the games and between them, visiting our shops, restaurants, beaches, wineries and other attractions.”
One of the big pluses of the Ashes is that it is played in several Australian cities, spreading the benefits across states and prompting significant spending on airlines and hotels.
Qantas, a partner with Cricket Australia, will for the first time live stream the Ashes and other games on many of its domestic aircraft using next generation Wi-Fi and the NBN satellites. It is also offering a dedicated highlights channel on its entertainment systems to encourage fans to fly with it.
There are strong signs this Ashes will be a blockbuster, with O’Sullivan adding “we saw a significant spike in UK visitors and spending during the 2013/14 series and the forward bookings analysis we’ve seen so far indicates that we’ll see similar numbers this time round.
“With overall honours tied at 32 (series) wins, this series has added bragging rights but I’m happy to predict a winner and that will unquestionably be Australian tourism.”
According to Cricket Australia, ticket sales have been stronger for 2017/18 than for any other Ashes series, with the first, second and third days sold out in most locations except the 100,000-capacity MCG, which is nonetheless already sold out for the first day’s play on Boxing Day.
The last in-depth analyis of the economic impact of the Ashes in 2007/08 by consultants URS found it generated $317 million for the Australian economy and created 793 jobs. Ticket sales generated $18.7 million and 37,000 international tourists came down under of which 64% came specifically for the Ashes.
A similar economic analysis by PwC was undertaken after the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the event lured 1.2 million spectators, measured by unique ticket sales, of which one quarter were from overseas.
That translated into 1.6 million bed nights across the two nations and direct spending of $1.1 billion
The effects of cricket-inspired tourism appear to be long lasting. There was a noticeable bounce in Indian tourists arriving over the 2015/16 summer when India played a two-match series. Since that time, arrivals from India have continued to grow at 15.3% a year, making it one of Australia’s fastest growing emerging markets. Nearly 300,000 Indians have visited Australia in the year to September.
Now Cricket Australia is looking at how to prolong the long, hot lucrative summer of cricket.
Images: The Gabba on the first day of the 2017/18 Ashes series (top, courtesy of the Gabba) and England's Barmy Army at the SCG in 2011 (below).
16th October 2017 - NEW HEAD CURATOR APPOINTED AT THE GABBA
24th August 2017 - CRICKET AUSTRALIA CANCELS 3,000 SCALPED TICKETS FOR PERTH ASHES TEST
2nd August 2017 - CRICKET AUSTRALIA AND PLAYERS’ UNION REACH LANDMARK PAY DEAL
12th May 2017 - WACA TO HOST DECEMBER ASHES TEST
26th April 2017 - NEW ZEALAND RUGBY 2017 FESTIVAL TO DELIVER ECONOMIC BENEFITS
11th April 2016 - RECORD VISITOR NUMBERS THROUGH AUCKLAND’S SUMMER
7th August 2015 - WHY TOURISM IS SET TO REPLACE MINING AS AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST EXPORT
31st March 2015 - MASSIVE CROWD NUMBERS FOR CRICKET WORLD CUP
7th January 2014 - BARMY ARMY BOOSTS SYDNEY TOURISM
12th July 2013 - LIONS GIVE SYDNEY ITS BIGGEST WEEK SINCE THE OLYMPICS
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