The British and Irish Lions begin their much anticipated tour of New Zealand this weekend. In total, the tourists will play ten matches during a five-week period, including three tests against World Champions New Zealand. One has to go back to 1971 to find the last, and only time the Lions won the series in New Zealand, with the All Blacks subsequently successful in 1977, 1983, 1993 and 2005. In fact, the last visit to New Zealand saw a whitewash victory for the hosts (3-0).
Success on the pitch is not the only benefit for New Zealand. A 2011 paper in Tourism Management by Johan Fourie and María Santana-Gallegob, entitled "The impact of mega-sport events on tourist arrivals" considers the impact of international visitors of six major sporting events. The six are Summer and Winter Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup and British/Irish Lions Tour over the period 1995–2006. The results provide interesting reading.
The authors find "...on average, mega-sporting events increase predicted tourism by roughly 8% in the same year. There is, however, large disparities between the types of event; the Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup and, to a lesser extent the Cricket World Cup and Lions Tour, all seem to have a significant positive impact on tourism...while the Rugby World Cup and the Winter Olympic Games have a negative impact on tourism, ceteris paribus" (Fourie and Santana-Gallegob, 2011: 1364-1367).
Crowding out and timing are both cited as possible explanations for the latter two events with the authors suggesting that "This may be due to tourism displacement, but is probably more the result of the smaller nature of these events and because the events analysed here were held in countries with an already strong tourism demand" (Fourie and Santana-Gallegob, 2011: 1369).
They continue by saying that "the size of tourism crowding-out may depend on the season in which the event is hosted. Events held during peak season, on average, tend to show a decline in predicted tourism, while events held during the off-season attract significantly higher numbers than what is predicted" (Fourie and Santana-Gallegob, 2011: 1369).