Lions boost SA economy

The British & Irish Lions tour generated R1.47 billion to the South African economy.

The figure of R1.47 billion was drawn from direct and indirect value to the travel and tourism gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa. A study commissioned by SA Rugby showed that the tour produced 8.95% of South Africa’s GDP, compared to 2008.

‘A Lions Tour ranks only behind the Rugby World Cup in terms of its scale and appeal,’ said Andy Marinos, acting MD of SA Rugby, in a statement. ‘Such a tour places significant demands on a rugby union and its member unions but also brings many benefits.

‘One of the most profound is the economic impact it has on the hosting nation. Preparing, hosting and moving around large numbers of rugby fans is a complex exercise but the most pleasing thing is that the large number of overseas visitors had an outstanding experience in South Africa.’

Two of the three Tests weren’t sell-outs and although Lions tour project manager Andre Homan expected before the tour that 50 000 visitors would stay for three weeks, only 37 000 British and Irish tourists entered the country. The survey was conducted among 812 overseas and South African rugby followers and found that supporters spent on average R44 622 during the series and stayed for an average of 16 days.

‘A Lions Tour is a win-win for all concerned,’ said Marinos. ‘The host nation’s economy benefits, the travelling supporters have an unforgettable experience to see the most keenly contested rugby there is and the tour is a financial success for the Lions, the host union and the provincial unions, sponsors and broadcasters.’