The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), now in its sixth year as title sponsor, has set out to reveal the financial benefit of this 125 year old annual tournament to the economies of the participants.
Key Findings include:
The overall value to the economies of the six nations (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales) is estimated to be £393.4 million.
The six host cities (London, Paris, Dublin, Rome, Edinburgh and Cardiff) can expect to benefit by £214.9 million from visitor expenditure, match income and employment.
The tournament annually sustains 2,720 FTE jobs across the host nations and employs over 22,000 temporary staff at the 6 stadia over the entire tournament.
In terms of the net benefit from tourism, the RBS 6 Nations Championship is worth £95.5 million in total. The net benefit to all six host cities each year is substantially greater than the £23 million net benefit to Manchester from hosting the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
The independent research, carried out by Tribal Consulting on behalf of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), and considered the most comprehensive economic examination of the event yet, draws on existing evidence and new data on attendances, media coverage and travel costs on matches by supporters.
What is even more significant to the hotel and bar owners as well as transport undertakings is that this economic boost of nearly £400m comes at what is traditionally a quiet time for tourism. Over the course of the 2007 tournament, a total of 767,000 beds nights* were booked by spectators and in Edinburgh alone, RBS has estimated that occupancy rates in hotels jumps by almost one third.
The RBS 6 Nations Championship also compares powerfully, in economic terms, with other major dates on the UK sporting calendar. Consider the £21 million in local gross expenditure estimated for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, for instance, and the £23 million of new expenditure The Open golf championship in 2005 at St Andrews had on Fife in Scotland. While the level of net tourism expenditure - £95.5m - is considerably higher than that estimated for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, at £23 million.
The special place that the Championship holds in the hearts of rugby fans is revealed in the survey. RBS estimates that they are likely to spend as much as £135 million across all 15 games, with £95.5 million of that expenditure taking place in the host cities' bars, restaurants and hotels. It is estimated that supporters will consume a headache inducing 8 million pints of beer and lager and some 5 million units of spirits during the tournament. The transport sector also benefits with fans spending almost £33 million of getting to the matches.
Stephen Boyle, Senior Economist at RBS said, "The RBS 6 Nations is more than just 15 games of rugby, it is a very real boost for the economies and the local businesses of the host cities and nations, filling what is usually a quiet time in the tourist season.
What has been most revealing though is the sheer scale of this boost. Over three years, the income from tourism generated by the 6 Nations is greater than the anticipated tourism income expected from the London Olympics in 2012."
Locally and nationally, there is a marked knock-on effect on jobs resulting from the event. In addition to the employment supported by visitor expenditure, more than 22,000 temporary staff are employed at the six stadia each year on match days. In total, across the host nations, the employment supported amounts to 2,720 jobs.
Evidence of the increasing interest in rugby is clear with the average number of TV viewers having grown by a third since RBS started sponsoring the tournament in 2002 when it averaged just fewer than 5 million a game and no single game exceeded an audience of 10 million viewers.
The average RBS 6 Nations match now attracts 8.8 million viewers, although three 2007 matches - Ireland v England, Ireland v France, England v France - attracted an average of over 11 million viewers across the combined six territories of Ireland, England, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
* Includes those visiting friends and family