track event

Thousands of Britons are following the Olympic torch to Brazil this month as a summer of sport continues to play a key role in travel trends.

More than 500,000 fans from England, Wales and Northern Ireland got behind their teams in France this summer and many more Britons will be in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics and in America’s Upper Midwest for golf’s Ryder Cup.

The sporting fixture list has been kind to travel agents and tour operators at a time when global events have made it a summer of great uncertainty.

A survey by travel association ABTA estimates that 6% of those planning a trip overseas in 2016 will be doing so in order to see a major sporting event.

Higher costs

This will be driven by the 25-34 age group, with more than one-in-ten heading overseas to watch sporting action. It’s a male dominated trend as ABTA reports  9% of men were planning this type of trip, compared with 3% of women.

There’s no doubting the boom effect that a month-long event such as Euro 2016 can have. It’s spawned a whole industry, with Thomas Cook Sport now in its twelfth year and many more firms offering tickets and hotel packages.

But there’s the downside that major events can ramp up costs for all travellers.

Football fans heading to Euro 2016 were recently blamed for lifting the UK’s inflation rate by more than expected in June.

Air fares

According to the Office for National Statistics, the cost of flights jumped by a record 10.9% between May and June. Much of this was due to European air travel, most likely the result of travel to the football tournament.

This lends weight to fears that there is a displacement effect as non-sporting tourists are put off travelling to destinations where events are being held.

At least the devaluation of the Brazilian real in recent years means travellers to the Olympics are less likely to feel squeezed by higher prices at the Games.

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