Herald Sun

Champs to bring in $50m

- PETER ROLFE

TOURISTS have be­gun flood­ing into Mel­bourne for a his­toric soc­cer tour­na­ment tipped to pour more than $50 mil­lion into the state econ­omy.

Fig­ures re­veal flight book­ings to Mel­bourne from in­ter­state have soared by more than 150 per cent com­pared with last year on dates the In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup will be played. Euro­pean soc­cer giants Real Madrid, Manch­ester City and AS Roma will face off in the three-match tour­na­ment, start­ing to­mor­row night.

Book­ings for flights from Syd­ney have surged by 260 per cent and Ade­laide by 256 per cent ahead of the tour­na­ment.

Sport Min­is­ter John Eren said more than half of the 200,000 plus peo­ple at­tend­ing the tour­na­ment were ex­pected to travel from in­ter­state or abroad.

“And we are only too pleased to welcome them to Vic­to­ria,’’ he said.

Book­ing web­site Skyscan­ner also re­ported a surge in visi­tors from Bris­bane (162 per cent), Dar­win (151 per cent) and Perth (133 per cent).

Real Madrid yesterday took to the train­ing pitch in the morn­ing and af­ter­noon, while AS Roma play­ers trained at Lakeside Oval last night ahead of their open­ing match to­mor­row night.

Thou­sands of fans are ex­pected at Real Madrid’s first open train­ing ses­sion at the MCG to­day.

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