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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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