An upside to England’s early exit?
Posted by John Beech on July 13, 2010
As well as my involvement in sports management research, I have another part to my day job – researching tourism management. These two worlds overlap in the topics of sports tourism and mega-events.
Catching up with my monitoring of tourism management developments, I came across a couple of reports suggesting that England’s early exit was going to be mainly rather good news for English travel agents. Andrew Pozniak, Director of e-Commerce for Google, has pointed out that “Travel searches on Google leapt by 15% after England went out of the World Cup in 2006” (1), and TravelMole offered more direct evidence: “Within an hour of England’s defeat to Germany, lowcostholidays.com reported a sudden surge in web traffic, around 40% increase compared to the previous week” (2). *
It’s an ill wind and all that, although on the other side of the coin Thomas Cook Sport had knocked more than £600 off its remaining four-day packages to South Africa for the quarter finals.
On the morning of the game I noticed a lot of general St George paraphernalia on sale at half price. Did they know something or had they just over-purchased? Whichever it was, the actual economic benefit was undoubtedly greater for the Chinese manufacturers than the English retailers. But which figure would be used in an economic impact analysis – purchases from China, projected sales revenues at full price, or actual sales revenues?
Spin-off and indirect effects make forecasting, and post-event evaluation, of the economic impact of mega sports events at best an informed guess. Costs are relatively easy to forecast (although projected costs always turn out to be rather lower than actual costs – I wonder why ) but projecting increased revenues is rather more problematic. Increased beer and flag sales may well be directly attributable to an event, but what about, for example, increased television sales? Those seeking to big up the economic impact of Euro2008 would have, as it happens, included my purchase of an HD TV a week before, but I can now reveal (my wife is not interested in football and does not read the blog) that Euro2008 may have triggered the purchase, but a purchase would have taken place anyway – it replaced a 25 year-old set that I was under considerable pressure to replace. I might have held out a couple more years, but a new TV was going to appear in the Beech household at some point fairly shortly, Euro2008 or not. Should my purchase really be included in the economic benefit?
Pronouncements on the economic benefit of a mega-event such as the World Cup need to be treated with caution. And it always important to bear in mind who is making the pronouncement – what vested interest do they have in inflating the figures?
* Late Extra: A similarly upbeat prediction from The Co-operative Travel should England fail here.