Bournemouth lately has been shedding its image as a gentle destination for OAPs and a lairy one for hen nights, with its very successful Arts by the Sea Festival seeing a new wave of culture vultures enter the Dorset town.
But soon they could be superseded by football fans, with the momentous news that AFC Bournemouth, the local football club, (known as the Cherries) has entered the Premier League. This means that local hotels and businesses need to prepare for an influx of visitors. Not least amongst these is Bournemouth airport, which is currently making preparations to ensure that it will be ‘Premier League-ready’ when the time comes.
The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport will be welcoming the news, as they recently published a report on how to strengthen the UK’s position as a tourist destination.
Bournemouth airport, which currently handles around 811,000 passengers a year, is taking advice from other airports which face similar patterns of extra footfall from football fans when fixtures take place, namely partners Manchester and East Midlands airports. Manchester Airports Group, the largest UK-owned airport group, owns all three airports, Bournemouth, Manchester and East Midlands.
Manchester airport is well used to dealing with this type of situation, as it regularly welcomes visitors to watch matches for both of the city’s rival Premier League teams, as well as their international opposition, while fans of Leicester City and their opposition are regularly seen at East Midlands airport.
So what can football fans expect to see as they fly in to Bournemouth? It seems they will be made very welcome, with ideas including a dedicated lounge being made especially available for friends and families of the team, offers on private jets if they are being hired to go to matches, and a special fast track lane just for those who arrive already in football kit.
Fans have also petitioned for the terminal itself to be renamed in honour of AFC Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe. He is the man behind the clubs successful entry to the Premier League for the first time in history.
Paul Knight, Bournemouth’s Airport general manager, commented: “At this stage, we are still celebrating the fantastic achievement of The Cherries, but over the summer we will be liaising with our colleagues at Manchester and East Midlands airports to ensure we are ‘Premier League ready’.
“Clearly the promotion is a massive boost for the town and everyone is very proud of Eddie and the players’ achievement.
“We are keen to play the best role we can in ensuring that their first season in the Premier League is as successful as possible and choosing to fly to away games as opposed to making long journeys by road seems a smart move in any coaching manual.
“You never know, this time next year we could also be talking about our European schedule.”
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