High increases for hotel searches ahead of Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup gets underway in a matter of hours, with host nation England kicking off the proceedings against Fiji at 8pm (Friday 18 September).
As fans eagerly await the start of the tournament, Expedia group has revealed data showing searches for match venue towns and cities significantly increased in the run-up.
The data suggests fans from around the world have been keen to make it to England and Wales to witness the sporting event.
Year-on-year search figures from the online travel agent (OTA) have shown an increase for hotel searches in areas where matches are being played.
Even non-traditional rugby union centres such as Leeds, where games will be played at the Elland Road football ground, Brighton (Community Stadium), Manchester (Manchester City Stadium), and Birmingham (Villa Park), have seen searches increase by 160%, 110%, 90% and 85% respectively compared with the same period last year.
The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff saw a 630% rise, while for London (Twickenham and Wembley Stadium) searches rose more than 50%.
Searches were made in the seven months from 1 December 2014 to 30 June 2015 for stays between the tournament's opening and closing dates of 18 September and 31 October 2015.
More than 460,000 fans from around the world are expected to visit England and Wales for the six-week tournament, which is the world's third largest sporting event, according to figures from Ernst & Young.
Isabelle Pinson, Expedia group senior director of market management for the UK & Ireland, said: "Our shopping data appears to indicate a significant impact from rugby tourism this year, compared to 2014, when there was no similar tournament taking place.
"When it comes to major events like this, strong partnerships, visibility, hands-on strategies and simple common sense are all essential to hotels getting their pricing right and managing increased demand.
"We've been working closely with our hotel partners in all the main game centres during the run-up to the tournament, and have drawn on the experience we have gained off the back of a number of large scale sporting and cultural events in the UK in recent years."
The opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup will start at 7pm tonight (18 September) with a 'pre-show' at 6.45pm.
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