Saturday 20 January 2018

Army of England rugby fans to bring €20m bonanza for capital's economy

Sam Griffin

We love to hate them on the pitch, but English fans bring the biggest economic boost to Dublin come international rugby weekends.

The country is in line for an economic bonanza as up to 15,000 English fans roll into town for tomorrow's crunch Six Nations match with Ireland.

The game is being tipped as an early 'competition decider' and one of the biggest games between the two sides in years.

Add in the fact that England are hosting the World Cup later this year and the strong performance of the pound against the euro, and business and tourism bodies say the match is worth more than €20m to the economy.

The IRFU have gone even further and said the clash has previously brought €50m locally through hotel stays and match tickets, dinners in restaurants and bars, as well as the employment created through the biennial visit of our old foes.

"It's a huge fillip to the local economy, particularly the area around the stadium. The hotels will be packed as will the pubs and restaurants. Shopping will go up as well and it's a huge boost to the local economy," explained the IRFU's commercial and marketing director Padraig Power.

"The English would traditionally be the biggest spenders but would also come in big numbers. Sterling is very strong so there's good value in it as well."

Research for the IRFU, conducted following England's 2011 visit, showed the average spend of an Irish match-goer for the weekend was €451, while those coming from England spent an average €980 across the weekend.

Despite the nature of the Six Nations fixtures, which sees Ireland host three games every two years and two games on the uneven years, business groups say there is little difference in the economic boost.

"The English always travel in big numbers and many will simply travel just to watch the match in a pub in Dublin," explained Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town, which represents over 2,500 businesses. He added the game was estimated to be directly worth around €15m to the local Dublin economy. Dublin Chamber of Commerce estimate this figure is around €22m.

Failte Ireland said the Six Nations, as a "high-visibility" event, was crucial in promoting Ireland as a holiday destination.

"Big events like concerts and sporting occasions are hugely important in highlighting Ireland and Dublin as a vibrant place and shows that there is a lot going on here," head of communications Alex Connolly said.

While many more are expected in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow, 4,800 tickets have officially been made available to the England Rugby Football Union.

Some 750 have gone to the union's official tour operator who offer package weekend deals starting from €1,031pp.

A spokesperson said the trip to Dublin is "always one of the most popular destinations every time".

"English fans love it. Italy is popular as well but Dublin is the ultimate weekend break," he said.

"There are fans who will travel to Dublin every time with us and will have their names down with us the first chance they get."

Irish Independent

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