Big rugby weekend 'worth €20m' to economy

Hotels, pubs and restaurants preparing for influx of French fans

Tourism chiefs are expecting a boost of more than €20m to the economy this weekend as thousands of French fans supporting three leading clubs descend on the capital Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Tourism chiefs are expecting a boost of more than €20m to the economy this weekend as thousands of French fans supporting three leading clubs descend on the capital Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Fri, May 17, 2013, 10:59

Tourism chiefs are expecting a boost of more than €20m to the economy this weekend as thousands of French fans supporting three leading clubs descend on the capital for tomorrow night’s Amlin Challenge Cup Final and Saturday’s Heineken Cup showpiece.

Tomorrow’s game sees Leinster take on French side Stade Francais at the RDS while Saturday sees the Aviva Stadium play host to French heavyweights Clermont-Auvergne and Toulon.

Failte Ireland spokesman Alex Connolly said today they were estimating a minimum of about 23,000 overseas visitors this weekend, who “conservatively” will have an economic impact of about €20m.

These figures were echoed by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, which put the figure at €21m. “Businesses are already reporting an increase in trade,” said spokesman Andrew Smyth yesterday. “It’s a great weekend for hotels, cafes, restaurants and pubs.

“Back in 2011, the Amlin Cup Final and Heineken Cup Final were held in Cardiff and they estimated it was worth about £30m but of course they’ve got bigger capacity over there in terms of the stadium.”

He said there was “a general acceptance” however that if it were English clubs contesting the finals, there would be a greater economic benefit.

“The net spend would be more and a lot of that would be down to business interests. You would have a lot of corporate functions and conferences to tie in with the fact that they have teams in the final. But we’re still expecting a good windfall from the French fans.”

The Irish Hotels Federation said the weekend would be worth an additional €12m to their industry alone. This will be spread over accommodation, food and beverages. “People are mostly booking two nights and aren’t going over that,” added a spokesman.

He said the boost in trade is likely to be confined to hotels in and around the M50 area however. This point was echoed by Restaurants’ Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins who emphasised the need for the Government and State agencies to try and draw fans out of the capital.

“We need to invest in events-driven tourism based around the likes of these big games, and not just specifically for Dublin – there has to be regionalisation.

“What we’re seeing is that Dublin is starting to level out from an economic point of view. We’re getting to the bottom of the recession in the capital – but outside of the M50 you’ve a different story.”

He estimated that each tourist who comes into the country this weekend will spend about €500 on everything between accommodation, food and alcohol.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said weekends of this nature are “a fantastic fillip” for businesses.

“The French are good spenders when they come over. They like their food and their drink – and the shopping districts like Grafton Street will see a boost. They hit all the restaurants and I’d expect most of those will be all booked out.”

Licensed Vintners Association chief executive Donal O’Keefe said pubs and bars around Dublin will be packed tonight due to the late kick-offs in both games. “People will probably stay out for the night so it’s very welcome,” he added.