Wimbledon fans fuel tourism boost as they arrive in record numbers


Tennis fans from across the globe are fuelling a tourism boom as they arrive in record numbers for the Wimbledon Championships.

A surge in inbound flights, hotels and room bookings compared with last year suggests this year’s tournament could be even more popular, with more travellers arriving from the home nations of the biggest stars.

Spanish fans were among those heading to London — lured by the prospects of seeing two-times champion Rafa Nadal after he missed last year’s tournament due to injury. Airbnb reservations by Spaniards are up 49 per cent on the year, a figure perhaps also boosted by Feliciano Lopez’s victory at Queen’s Club.

According to the lettings website, room bookings were up 73 per cent in Merton and Wandsworth throughout the tournament, which starts on Monday.

Bookings from France have risen by 108 per cent, perhaps reflecting Gallic hopes for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who reached the quarter-finals last year.

UK bookings are up 64 per cent, suggesting more Britons are coming from further afield to witness Andy Murray’s attempt to defend his title. Bookings from the US, Australia and Canada are also up. International flight reservations to London were up nine per cent from today and over the next two weeks, compared with the same period last year, according to figures from Europe’s largest online travel company eDreams ODIGEO.

Robert McNamara, one of the company’s UK executives, said: “It’s clear that Wimbledon remains a huge draw for international visitors with people flocking to the capital to watch their tennis heroes.

The flights giant has seen a 125 per cent increase on arrivals from Australia and an 11 per cent increase from Germany, the home of women’s number one Angelique Kerber.

Olivier Jager, chief executive of ForwardKeys, which forecasts travel patterns by analysing flight bookings, said: “Bookings for international visitors staying overnight in London during the Wimbledon fortnight are 15 per cent ahead of where they were a week before the start of Wimbledon last year.”

Carlo Rappa, of accommodation wholesaler JacTravel, said: “We are seeing people from certain markets arriving to support stars from their own countries. The Scots are coming down to support Andy Murray and the Spanish are flying in to support Rafa.”

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