Football Tourism After Coronavirus

January 2021

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a significant impact on football tourism. As both the sports and travel industries struggle to recover, the impact on travelling football fans and tourism companies could be greater and longer lasting than for other industries.

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Key Findings

Spain and UK the most affected countries by lack of travelling international fans

Due to high value inbound receipts and the influx of visiting fans, Spain has been the country most affected globally by a lack of travelling fans. Despite much lower inbound receipts value, the UK was the second most affected country, owing to its unmatched volume of incoming visiting fans.

Economic impact in other regions more limited, but still significant in key countries

Attendance figures for the AFC Champions League and Copa Libertadores were hit less hard than tournaments in Europe, reducing the total loss in spend deriving from the lack of visiting fans. However, in key countries like Brazil, Argentina, Russia and China, the economic impact of inbound fans remains significant.

With international travel on its knees, the focus is on local travel for recovery

The travel and tourism industry will experience a long-lasting impact across the whole value chain, with a full recovery likely to take 5-10 years in some categories. With pockets of recovery in some regions, domestic and short haul travel are expected to drive the initial rebound.

The development of the pandemic is crucial to the future of sports events

Health and logistic factors related to the availability and effectiveness of a vaccine will play a key role in determining when sports properties will be allowed full capacity at their events, as well as when visiting fans will be allowed to travel abroad to attend such events.

The challenge of overcoming the fear factor

A significant factor in the recovery scenario is the fear factor that may persist. While most fans wish to return to attending sports events, it is unclear how many will weigh this desire against risks and will decide to prolong their absence. Coordination between local authorities, sports properties and tourism brands will be crucial to minimise the fear factor and encourage a return to sports venues.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings
Methodology: away fans
Methodology: spend forecasting and calculation by category
Methodology: spend calculation by brand
Matchday impact on sports properties’ profits
More than 900,000 fans travel annually to attend continental matches
Recurring travelling fans are vital for local travel companies
Madrid 2019: capital of global football
COVID-19 impact on sport and travel industries

Visiting Fans’ Spend in Western Europe

Different paces for return to pre-COVID-19 levels in Western Europe
UK teams have the highest attendance figures in Western Europe
Spain records the highest inbound spend in Western Europe
Sport remains important for lodging despite hard hit from missing fans
Low-cost carriers looking forward to venues reopening to bounce back
Western Europe: key takeaways

Visiting Fans’ Spend in Eastern Europe

COVID-19 impact on key markets in Eastern Europe
Russia tops ranks across all matchday metrics in Eastern Europe
Croatia records the highest inbound economic spend in Eastern Europe
Lodging brands waiting to welcome back sports fans
Differences in regulations hinder rapid rebound of low-cost carriers
Eastern Europe: key takeaways

Visiting Fans’ Spend in Latin America

COVID-19 impact on key geographies in Latin America
Brazil and Argentina top Latin American matchday metrics
Significant inbound fans spend divide between countries Latin America
Football’s allure in Latin America key for regional recovery
Fans on the lookout for health measures and ticketing policies
Latin America: key takeaways

Visiting Fans’ Spend in Asia Pacific and Middle East

COVID-19 impact on key geographies in Asia Pacific and Middle East
Fragmentation across matchday metrics in Asia Pacific and Middle East
Middle Eastern countries record the highest inbound spend in Asia
Relaxation of local restrictions yet to bring back visiting fans
Limitations on routes could slow down recovery in Asia
Asia Pacific and Middle East: key takeaways

Post-COVID-19 Outlook of Travel Industry

Global arrivals continue to tumble
Digital readiness essential to mitigate future disruptions
The emergence of new consumer attitudes
Expedia in a new partnership deal with Liverpool FC

Post-COVID-19 Outlook of Sports Industry

The future of sports live attendance: what to expect?
The challenges of overcoming the fear factor
COVID-19 exacerbates existing problems
Short and long-term economic impact of COVID-19 on sponsorships deals
Evolving sports fan behaviour

Conclusion

Key takeaways

Appendix

Appendix (1)
Appendix (2)
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