The Ashes Effect: Barmy Army saving Sydney tourism

If you have tuned into the cricket this summer, you have probably seen the images of the British cricket faithful, or as they are more popularly known, The Barmy Army.

England captain Joe Root labelled them “the best fans in the world” after his team’s 120 run defeat at the Adelaide Oval, and it seems it’s not only the visiting cricket team appreciating the boisterous group of fans.

Their immense support is now being felt by Sydney businesses ahead of the fifth and final Ashes Test of the summer. January is typically the weakest month of tourism for Sydney, but the city’s tourist attractions are all reporting growth.

Along with tickets to the Test matches, the Barmy Army, which is a multi-million dollar business, organises activities such as hiking in the Blue Mountains and Harbour Bridge climbs; all of which are shown on The Barmy Army’s Twitter account.

While many tourists decide to stay at home during the holiday season, the Barmy Army is helping lift tourist numbers this January as many of them are here to “see the sights” as well as the cricket.

The Tank Stream Hotel, based in Wynyard, has recorded a 19 per cent increase in occupancy this January compared to this time last year. The hotel’s general manager Klaus Kinateder says that for many “[The Ashes] is a travel tradition that they regard as compulsory every four years – irrespective of whether they are likely to win or lose”.

This has been echoed by members of the Barmy Army. Pat Duker, who is in with his family for the tour for the first time says the result of the Ashes is of little importance to them. “We don’t care about the poor results, we just love seeing everything, especially the sightseeing”.

Rachel Millard, another first time member of the n Barmy Army tour says that she is currently ticking off items from her “bucket list”.

“We [the Barmy Army] went on a harbour tour this morning and we go out nearly every night,” she said. “It’s a combination. People are here for the cricket and to see the sights”.

Last year only 297,800 tourists arrived in NSW in January, compared to 313,900 in February and 305,500 in March, so Mr Kinateder says the influx of tourists this January is welcome.

“January is usually our quietest month, so we love having the English tourists here. For a group following a team that has lost so heavily, they are remarkably upbeat”.

In July last year, one of the Barmy Army organisers said there were 30,000-plus fans travelling to for the Ashes tour, with 11,000 of those part of the official Barmy Army membership. When a Cricket pay dispute threatened to derail the five-test series, it was estimated a cancellation of the Ashes could cost the n tourism industry $400 million in lost revenue.

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