Australian Open: Beyond the Gates
As a group that takes people to tennis events all over the world, we have a clear understanding of what it means to the local economies when a tournament comes into town. Simply: it means a lot, though not all cities feel the impact in the same way. While New York proudly embraces its role as host to the biggest tennis event in the world, it’s not a city that bats an eye when a global event comes into town. New York such an absorptive sponge that it simultaneously hosts NYC Fashion Week, the US Open, countless concerts and pro sports events, and even while you’re literally riding the #7 train out to Flushing Meadows you can still run into people who will look at you and ask, “What tennis tournament?”
The Melbourne Embrace
The Australian Open, however, is a different story. Melbourne is a tale of absolute consumption and city-wide obsession. During those two great weeks in January, good luck finding a bar that doesn’t have a tennis-themed drink special and three screens devoted to Rod Laver Arena, MCA and HiSense, respectively. The streets and parks fill up with tennis fans and artists and open-air concerts, all entirely aware and in tune with the hard-court event taking place around them. Magazines and newspapers are covered in all things Aussie Open, with full sections dedicated to the play and other sections to the show and excitement that whirls around it.
By the Numbers
Tennis is a game of artistry that lends itself to numbers, and tennis tourism can be approached in a similar way. Sure, it’s our passion for the game that sends us across the world and it’s the moments big-stage brilliance that capture our hearts. However, just as we discuss tennis in terms of first-serve percentages and break points converted, tourism is a business measured by room nights and table reservations.
Last year the Australian Open welcomed approximately 720,000 in attendance (which, at $200/ticket is a cool $144 Million in ticket revenue) and, more modestly, we brought approximately 250 guests to Australia. If we give some thought to the impact of GSTT guests it helps us to imagine the scale of the tournament as a whole:
- Flights from the US to Melbourne average $1,500 = $375,000
- 450 hotel nights at The Langham, at $500/night = $225,000
- Assuming a humble meal average of $60/day, for 14 days = $210,000
- Nearly all our guests leave with official souvenirs. One Jumbo Autograph ball, a hat and a t-shirt totals $60. = $15,000
- Australia’s beautiful excursions aren’t free, and if we account for 200 individual excursions, averaging $1,000 = $200,000
We’ll stop here, because very quickly our 250 guests have contributed nearly one million dollars towards an economy that isn’t their own, and if you count this writer’s penchant for drink and some fancy new shoes, it’s probably more like one million two hundred and fifty.
The numbers are estimates, of course, and the point is that the importance of tennis reaches far beyond the matches on court and the organization who runs the event. Or, for that matter, those who operate tours to take you there. The impact is felt far up the Yarra Valley at the wineries and farms, across the Bass Strait in Tasmanian eco-lodges and down the street at Bond Store Café, who help you start your day with an eggs benedict and a mean cup of espresso.
The Tour Keeps Spinning
The good news, of course, is that tennis travels constantly, leaving a trail of financial growth wherever it goes. Melbourne and the rest of Down Under gets some love in January, but then the other eleven months take us everywhere from tourism capitals like London and Paris, to small, beautiful clubs like the Houston US Men’s Clay Court Championships in River Oaks, and finally to tennis frontiers like Takshent, Uzbekistan where, as I write, Kristyna Pliskova, sister of US Open Finalist Karolina Pliskova, is currently on-court against Karumi Nara in the 2nd Round.
It’s a beautiful, global tour we all support and we’d love to take you wherever it is you’d like to go.