New figures on the impact of the Rugby World Cup 2015 (RWC) spell good news for the hospitality industry.
According to The Economic Impact of Rugby World Cup 2015 report from transaction and advisory group EY, the event, from 18 September to 31 October, will attract more international visitors than any previous RWC.
Up to 499,000 visits are expected, contributing £2.2b to GDP and generating an estimated £391m in visitor spend alone.
RWC 2015 will be hosted across 11 cities and 13 venues, including London, Brighton, Leicester, Cardiff and Newcastle, ensuring that the economic benefits are broadly spread.
Spend in stadia on food and drink is expected to create £32m of revenue for the 11 host cities, including £13m from international visitors. London is expected to benefit the most, generating £16m in F&B stadia revenue, while Milton Keynes is likely to garner the least, at £1m.
The report highlights that, unlike football, it is possible to purchase alcohol throughout rugby matches, which increases the sales opportunities.
There will also be increased demand for accommodation. The report predicts that up to 294,000 visitors will come from Europe, spending an average of three nights; up to 86,000 Australasians will each spend around 24 nights; and up to 21,000 Africans will spend on average 22 nights. In total, EY estimates that visitors will inject up to £869m of revenue into the UK economy.
The report says the knock-on effect of the boost in tourism will create demand for about 7,000 jobs.
Other knock-on effects predicted by the report include "non-quantifiable benefits", such as the improved appeal of host cities of sporting events to short break and day visitor markets, generated through media coverage.
The figures have been welcomed by VisitEngland. Chief executive James Berresford said: "We have an exciting line-up of projects planned in the build-up and look forward to continued work with the organising committee, England Rugby 2015, the host cities, venues and local authorities, as the tourism industry gears up to maximize the potential for economic growth and job-creation linked to this high-profile sporting event."