The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship is definitely one of the hottest keywords this summer with an undeniable appeal to football lovers as well as sports lovers around the globe. As an impactful international event, this will be an opportunity for European countries to resume travel and kick start their tourism industry.
The UEFA Euro is a major sporting event that takes place every four years and attracts a huge number of football lovers around the globe. The Euro 2020 this year takes place in the context of European countries starting to ease or lift their travel restrictions to reopen borders to international visitors. Therefore, this event can be considered the very first step of recovering the tourism industry in Europe.
What makes Euro 2020 so special compared to other seasons?
Euro 2020 marks the 16th UEFA European Championship, which was scheduled to be held in 2020 at first. However, due to the dangerous situation of Covid-19 in 2020, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has decided to postpone the championship to 2021. In addition, with travel demand being bent up throughout the past year, Euro 2020 is expected a lot more than the previous championships.
Another special feature of Euro 2020 is that there is no host country this year, which means that no team is exempt from the group stage to go directly to the knockout stage. Therefore, this year’s championship will have more matches than the previous UEFA Euro. Moreover, since there is no host country, all matches will be held at 11 stadiums in 11 different countries instead of at just one or two host countries as before. So Europe can take advantage of this year’s UEFA Euro championship to boost sports tourism in 11 destinations, not just one or two like in previous championships.
What will Euro 2020 contribute to tourism of destinations in Europe?
- Contribute to building destination image
With fans entering the stadium to watch live and cheer for the matches, European countries can take advantage of this opportunity to affirm the safety of the destination after the pandemic. This will also help destinations boost visitor confidence in their future trip to Europe. Hungary can be seen as a typical example as it is making a good impression on international visitors by Puskás Aréna in the capital of Budapest allowed to open at maximum capacity to ensure the experience of all fans throughout the championship.
In addition, as this year’s Euro matches are held in 11 different cities across Europe, it becomes the perfect opportunity to promote the image of many destinations across Europe rather than just promoting for one to two countries as in previous years. here. After the travel halt lasting more than a year, this event is a great opportunity for the destinations, especially for countries that are not so famous for tourism like Azerbaijan, to make their comebacks in the media, attracting potential visitors for the future. Currently, in the Euro 2020 season, international visitors can know more about Baku, the heart of Azerbaijan, besides the other cities that have already developed strong tourism such as Seville of Spain, Budapest of Hungary or Amsterdam of the Netherlands.
Moreover, destinations can also collaborate with the stadiums, taking advantage of this sports event to provide information and remind everyone of their destination images during and around each match, showcasing its beauty to lure travelers to come in the future.
- Bring economic values to the destination
At the 15th UEFA Euro championship, which took place in 2016, the host country of France was able to attract 2.4 million fans (including 613,000 foreign fans), contributing 1.22 billion euros to its economy, of which 596 million euros came from events and organizers, and 625.8 million euros came from tourism activities (mainly from lodging and F&B services).
With such potential, this year’s season of UEFA Euro 2020 is set with even higher expectations to boost Europe’s economy and tourism after a year of barely any travel. Thanks to the success of the vaccination programs and the initiative of the EU Digital Covid Certificate, most European countries have eased or lifted the strict travel restrictions, allowing restaurants to reopen to welcome customers and visitors who meet their requirements. However, since many stadiums are still limiting their capacity for watching the matches live, and the matches are scattered in 11 different destinations, there is a high possibility that the number of foreign visitors coming to each host country will be less than the previous seasons. Therefore, the economic value generated from tourism activities during Euro 2020 is still a mystery, with revenue contributed by mostly domestic fans only.
Even so, the destinations hosting matches can still take advantage of the travelers coming to watch the championship to promote more tour packages and activities at day time to increase their tourism revenue, as well as to give visitors the opportunity to grasp a better understanding of the culture and life of the city outside the stadium.
Up to now, Euro 2020 has passed half of the way, and somehow brings positive signs for the recovery of tourism activities and large events.
However, despite widespreadingly successful vaccination programs and management to curb the pandemic, European countries still need to pay attention to control the situation in case it gets worse again. Fans will be able to travel among these 11 cities to watch the match with their own eyes. And so, these cities and countries need to balance between the fan experience and their safety. Keeping the success of the Euro 2020 championship will also be great leverage for countries in the region to consider reopening fully as well as increase the tourist confidence to visit Europe in the very near future.