A British & Irish Lions tour played in empty stadiums could mean the South African economy losing up to R8 billion in potential revenue, according to a local report.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that the eight-match tour is set to go ahead in South Africa as originally planned, after the contingency to relocate the tour to the UK was dismissed by the Lions board.
The decision to align in keeping the tour in South Africa was made as the Lions board could not secure a guarantee from the UK government to underwrite the costs for relocating the tour. It was also not clear whether UK stadiums would be ready to return to a minimum required 25% capacity by the time the tour rolled around in July.
It is hoped that holding the tour in South Africa could boost the tourism industry, which has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, SA Rugby did announce that the tour schedule is subject to review due to the pandemic and its predicted progression, adding that venues are to be confirmed.
It could also happen that games are played behind closed doors, which would mean stadiums empty of the legion of Lions fans not travelling to South Africa, which in turn, could mean a multi-billion rand loss of revenue for the SA economy.
According to a model developed for Sport24.co.za, South Africa could miss out on a grand total of R8bn in revenue.
The model, created by North West University’s Professor Andrea Saayman, is based on a projected number of 35,000 tourists spending five weeks of the tour in the country.
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