8 January 2016, Written by Laura Daquino

WHILE its seaside neighbour may have Hollywood appeal, the world's most marketable sports stars are drawn to Brisbane.

Brisbane tourism continues to scale new heights every new year, with the lure of big stars and long-time visitors like Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova for Brisbane International this month proving a drawcard.

Rick Hamilton, acting CEO of Tourism Events Queensland and group executive destinations and global partnerships, says the Brisbane International has been a highlight on Queensland's event calendar for some time now.

The tournament attracts about 100,000 fans each year to play a part in Brisbane's growing $5.2 billion tourism industry. In perspective, state-wide tourism totals $23 billion.

"It's great to have Roger and Maria back in Queensland and telling millions of fans around the world about their amazing experiences," says Hamilton.

"It's a shame Maria had to withdraw from her title defence but her online engagement with her fans and media coverage during her last few days in Brisbane has been fantastic for Queensland."

Sharapova pulled out of the tournament before her opening match against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova due to injury, a precautionary measure to protect her Australian Open campaign later this month.

Her star power goes beyond courtside action though, and despite not carrying out the job she intended in Brisbane this week, she has excelled at another.

Sharapova is the second most popular female athlete on social media behind American MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, and regarded 'the world's most marketable female athlete'. Any shots of her around the city, like the one pictured right, could be worth upwards of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for industry based on her number of followers and their engagement. 

Likewise, third-seeded Federer - who has been hailed 'the world's most marketable sports star' - used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share a courtside Brisbane International snap to more than 15 million followers.

The flow-on effects of such coverage are essentially immeasurable and priceless.

Back to Hollywood, a movie's success is often measured by critical reception and box office sales.

Brisbane International has been awarded the prestigious ATP International Award for 'Best Fan Experience' in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the 'Queensland Sport Event of the Year' award in 2009, 2012 and 2015. It is critically very well received.

A massive crowd of 97,034 fans attended Brisbane International 2015, the second highest total in the tournament's history. The event record stands at 105,730 set in 2014. This year could crack the box office again, with Federer playing Grigor Dimitrov tonight in the quarter-finals, and the women's singles finals taking place tomorrow night alongside a legends match between Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Cash.

The weekend is very likely to sell out - if you love tennis, celebrities or Brisbane in general, this is an event not to be missed.

Very limited tickets for Brisbane International are still available at: http://www.brisbaneinternational.com.au/tickets/general-information

Author: Laura Daquino Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn





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