Nearly one million football mad tourists visit UK to see matches

 
Julian Harris
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BRITISH football pulls in nearly a million tourists to the UK every year, according to new figures released this morning.

The government statistics office found that around 900,000 foreign visitors watched a game of football during 2011, spending a hefty average of £785 each and injecting £706m into the economy.

“The research suggests that football works as a highly effective tool in enticing visitors to Britain at some of the quieter times of the year, with the greatest proportion of inbound visitors going to a football match between January and March,” said a statement from VisitBritain, which commissioned the data.

Tourists from Norway are the most likely to be drawn to the UK by its football matches, with one in 13 catching a game during their visit.

Yet most football-watching tourists come from Ireland (174,000), ahead of Norway (80,000).

Overall, around 40 per cent of foreign fans at football matches said that watching sport was their primary reason for visiting the UK.