I read an interesting report the other day that suggested Taylor Swift's Paris leg of her Eras tour in May this year brought more than five times as many luxury American travellers to the city as the Olympics is expected to do

Cards on the table, I’m not a Swiftie, but I am interested in the ‘Swiftonomics’ effect, particularly when it comes to the travel industry. It also got me thinking about the impact of major events as a whole on travel, along with the rise of global sports tourism.

In terms of Swiftonomics, the ripple effects on both airlines and local tourism are significant. Hotels in cities where the mega star is performing are reportedly breaking occupancy records, even with substantial price hikes. Airlines are laying on extra seats to accommodate swifties travelling to see their idol and the impact on the local economy wherever Ms Swift goes is staggering.

This surge in interest is evident in our online search behaviour. Take for example the term ‘flights to paris’ which in June 2022 had a monthly average search volume of 57.3k. Exactly one year later, the search volume had leapt up 67% to an average of 95.8k. What was particularly noteworthy about June 2023? Two things specifically. Firstly, tickets for the Paris Olympics had been released a few weeks earlier and secondly, Taylor Swift had just announced her European dates for the Eras tour which included a number of concerts in Paris.

Flights to paris Semrush image

A similar uptick occurred for the term ‘cheap accommodation in paris’, which increased 52% from June 2022 to June 2023:

Cheap accommodation in paris image

Good news for the French tourism economy – less positive news for the Françiliens (inhabitants of Paris) who are considering fleeing the city altogether for the duration of the Olympic Games.

Sports tourism is now a big business

For many people, sports tourism evokes images of drunken football fans making their presence felt loudly in host cities (or more specifically, the host cities’ bars). While that still happens, it is only a small part of what is now a huge global business. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) predicts sports tourism will grow 17.5% in the next six years and already accounts for approximately 10% of tourism-related spending around the world.

Typically, any country or city hosting a major sporting event is a win for the local economy. Formula One is a prime example. It’s estimated that Monaco’s GDP expands by $110 million during the week of the Grand Prix, with thousands of spectators flocking to the tiny principality to witness the racing action. The effect is also felt in neighbouring towns and cities such as Nice, where hotels are frequently booked up months, sometimes years, in advance by F1 fans.

While the major sporting event this year is of course the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, it won’t have escaped your attention that there’s a football tournament happening right now. What sets events such as the Euros or World Cup apart is that the tournament is held in multiple cities across the country, meaning the impact on tourism is not simply concentrated in one single area. Hoteliers and accommodation providers in all German cities where matches are being played have seen occupancy levels spike on and around the match dates. Looking at the first two weeks of the championship, Cologne saw the most hotel bookings, with the highest number occurring on the 19th June when Switzerland played Scotland in Cologne (82.3% occupancy) and the night before (18th June) showing booking levels as high as 81.5%.

Matchday deman hotels image

With demand high, it’s no surprise that prices for accommodation in the host cities have skyrocketed, with one report suggesting prices had been hiked by an eye-watering 300%.

Hoteliers will no doubt be quick to argue that price hikes are warranted. “The boom in international travel during the UEFA Euro season gives hotels in Germany a unique advantage to further boost their revenue,” says Clemens Fisch, Regional Director of hotel commerce platform SiteMinder. “Hoteliers can capitalise on the arrival of football fans from around the world by offering upgrades, extras and tailored packages even before they check in. Not only will this allow hotels to maximise their revenue potential, but it will also make the stays of their guests more memorable, creating a UEFA Euro summer to remember.”

Final thoughts

The role sport, music and other cultural events plays in travel and tourism is on an upward trajectory. While trips to these events are typically shorter than the average holiday, they are nevertheless significant cash cows for the tourism industry and local economy. We’ve touched upon the Monaco Grand Prix as one example, but closer to home, the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest delivered a £54-million economic boost to Liverpool, a city which has just received a further seismic boost to its local economy thanks to a succession of concerts by – who else – Taylor Swift.

For destination management companies and tourism boards, these events offer golden opportunities for targeted marketing campaigns that can boost the attractiveness of a specific city or location. It’s often worth teaming up with a provider to help promote not only a destination but also accommodation, catering or other services in your location to offer a complete service to potential travellers. The key is to strike while the iron is hot.

For travel agents, hoteliers and other tourism brands with a vested interest in a specific location, events can throw up a once in a decade chance to piggyback on surges in demand. As soon as announcements are made, businesses will need to take every opportunity to capitalise on increases in search and demand to ensure they are first in line to reap the benefits.

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Meet the author ...

Andy Headington


Andy has been part of Adido since it was an idea in a pub nearly twenty years ago. He loves to work with the Adido team and all of the clients on board asking challenging questions and ...