Aussie tourism chiefs have high hopes for Lions tour

It goes without saying that rugby is big business down under and it is hard to come across an Aussie who isn't passionate about the game.

Tourism chiefs are thankful that the sport is also big in the UK and Ireland, as thousands of fans of the British and Irish Lions are expected to descend on Australia next year – with many of them carrying pocketfuls of overseas travel money.

Indeed, managing director of Tourism Australia Andrew McEvoy has confirmed that more than 26,000 people have enquired about holiday packages in the country when the Lions embark on a nine-match tour in June and July.

This, Mr McEvoy added, would represent a record attendance and there is certain to be a party atmosphere.

"Based on the phenomenal take up so far, interest in the tour is only going to get bigger and bigger," he remarked.

Hoteliers, as well as restaurant and bar owners in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, Canberra and Perth will no doubt be hoping the hoards of British and Irish rugby fans will have their travel money cards at the ready when they make the long journey in 2013.