13 March 2012 by Luke McCormick
More fans will travel on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia than ever before, according to Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy.
Official ticket-inclusive travel packages went on sale in the UK this week, with officials confirming they expect more than 26,000 British and Irish rugby supporters to travel to Australia for the nine-match rugby tour taking place in June and July 2013.
"Based on the phenomenal take up so far, interest in the tour is only going to get bigger and bigger," Mr McEvoy said.
"To have already received more than 26,000 advance enquiries from rugby fans really keen to follow the tour is impressive stuff from right across the UK, Ireland and Europe," he said.
Mr McEvoy believes the huge popularity of previous British and Irish Lions tours Down Under provides a clear opportunity to boost Australian tourism, in particular from the UK and Ireland.
"The British and Irish Lions is one of the great sporting tours and presents fantastic opportunities for Australia tourism, as thousands of rugby fans flock to our country and follow the Lions all over the country, experiencing for themselves why there is nothing like sport in Australia," he said.
The British and Irish Lions will play nine matches during their six-week tour of Australia, including three Test matches and games against all five Australian Super 15 Rugby teams.
The three Test matches in 2013 against the Qantas Wallabies will occur in Brisbane (June 22), Melbourne (June 29) and the final test in Sydney (July 6), with the tour also featuring games in Perth, Canberra and Newcastle (combined NSW and Queensland Country XV) on 12 June.
Mr McEvoy said the popularity of the British and Irish Lions Tour, together with the future Ashes Test cricket series being hosted in Australia provide significant benefits for tourism, both in terms of additional overseas visitors but also as a platform to promote destination Australia more widely.