Tourism Australia has welcomed the announcement by the British & Irish Lions that they will tour Australia in 2013. The team will play matches in six Aussie cities, including three tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The Australian tourism board will work in partnership with official tour operator, Lions Rugby Travel, on a series of joint activities to promote the tour, and Australia as a destination.
Tourism Australia’s Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, has he believes the huge popularity of the previous Lions tours Down Under in 2001, provides a clear opportunity to boost Australian tourism from the UK and within Australia itself.
“The British and Irish Lions tour presents a new fantastic opportunity for Australia tourism, and I have little doubt that their mid-2013 visit will deliver for us both in international and domestic tourism terms, combining passions for sport, attendance to major events and best leveraging business event opportunities around this signature rugby experience,” McEvoy said.
Meanwhile, British & Irish Lions manager, Andy Irvine said he was looking forward to the support of fans travelling from the home nations.
“The last Lions tour to Australia in 2001 heralded the dawn of ‘The Red Army’ with tens of thousands of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh tourists and ex-pats wearing the red jersey in support of the Lions. We look forward to another challenging tour to one of the world’s most beautiful countries,” Irvine said.
In addition to the matches Down Under, the Lions will play a one-off match against the Barbarians in Hong Kong.
“The Lions receive numerous requests to play matches around the world outside of the traditional tour destinations of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. For 2013 we had the perfect opportunity to play a match in the developing rugby region of Asia, while at the same time break the long journey from Europe to Australia,” Irvine explained.
The last Lions tour to Australia was a decade ago when the team played 10 matches, winning seven, but losing the test series 2-1 to the Wallabies.