Wealthy tourists visit the theatre
Musicals are making a mint for British tourism, according to latest figures.
As many as 2.8 million trips to the UK by overseas visitors include a theatre visit, statistics from VisitBritain show.
And those heading for shows are among the ones spending the most during their visits.
Musicals are by far the most-popular shows for foreign holidaymakers, making up 64% of all theatre visits, with plays accounting for 25%.
Those visiting theatres splash out £2.7 billion a year while on their trips to the UK. Those including a theatre visit account for 14% of all overseas holiday trips compared with just 4% which take in a live sporting event.
The average spend by theatre-keen visitors while in the UK is £983, while the average is around £600.
VisitBritain said 24% of holiday visitors who stay in London will go to the theatre, resulting in an estimation of just over two million international tourists overall enjoying a show in the UK capital last year.
Of overseas holiday visitors staying in the West Midlands or the north west of England, 9% go to the theatre.
English-speaking countries dominate the top 20 markets for highest volume of visits incorporating a trip to the theatre, the opera or ballet. The USA leads with 426,000 visits, followed by Australians with 209,000 visits.
Based on the number of theatre trips compared with the number of visitors coming to the UK, the Israelis are keenest to take in a show in the UK, followed by the Australians and Brazilians.
Nearly two in five of the overseas theatregoers are in the 25-44 age range, while 55% are women.
Those most likely to buy their theatre tickets after arriving in the UK are visitors from Taiwan, Argentina and Mexico.
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “The vitality of our theatre – whether the London West End, or our major regional centres – provides a great holiday experience for our international visitors.
“In Britain you can see cutting-edge theatre by new writers, big blockbuster musicals and plenty of Shakespeare with actors that are known across the globe. If you like the theatre, Britain is a great place to enjoy it.”
Lyricist Sir Tim Rice said: “Theatre is not only one of Britain’s strongest exports – it is also enjoyed in the UK by visitors from all over the world.”