The Grand Final weekend that has gripped Australia, producing two thrilling, storybook results in which underdogs triumphed, also worked wonders for tourism.
In Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs, formerly the Footscray Football Club, broke a 62-year premiership drought to beat the Sydney Swans in the AFL Grand Final.
Sydney saw the Cronulla Sharks take the NRL Grand Final by defeating Melbourne Storm, notching up Cronulla’s first premiership win in 49 years.
The games inspired thousands of passionate fans of both codes to head between Sydney and Melbourne by air and by road, all spending money and boosting Australia’s domestic tourism figures. Other fans flew in from other states and from other cities and regions in NSW and Victoria.
About 21,000 NRL supporters visited Sydney, with the match expected to contribute up to AUD 19 million to the NSW economy in visitor spend, according to NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres.
Sydney hosted an Official NRL Grand Final Fan Day on the Sydney Opera House Forecourt, with five hours of activity dedicated to Rugby League fans. Entertainment and activations included Virtual Kick tester, player signing sessions and photo opportunities with all 16 NRL teams.
Victoria marked the second year of its Grand Final public holiday. The state’s acting Small Business Minister, Steve Herbert, cited government data which he said showed last year’s long weekend provided a AUD 64 million boost for Victorian tourism, with a 64% increase in overnight trips and an 84% increase in day trips.
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry put a slight dampener on the fun, conducting a survey which found only 12% of businesses that opened last year turned a profit on the Grand Final public holiday. That was because they paid an average of AUD 8218 in penalty rates and an extra AUD 7768 to staff not to come in, Melbourne’s Herald-Sun reported.
Written by : Peter Needham