The AFL Aussie rules competition has provided a significant boost to Western Australia on the back of the league’s first season at Perth’s new Optus Stadium.

The 60,000-seat stadium officially opened in January and its co-tenants are AFL teams Fremantle and West Coast Eagles.

The WAToday news website, citing data from Tourism WA, has reported that more than 66,000 AFL fans have travelled to Perth over the past year specifically to watch matches. While they were there, fans spent almost Aus$66m (£37m/€42m/$48m).

WAToday’s report added that 22,887 of the 31,059 interstate visitors visited Western Australia during the regular season, with 8,172 travelling to attend the Eagles’ two home finals matches against Collingwood and Melbourne.

According to Tourism WA data, fans stayed in Perth for an average of 4.4 nights and spent Aus$245 each day, contributing some Aus$34m to the state’s economy.

“Maximising leisure visitation from AFL games at Optus Stadium and encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more is a key component of the state government’s two-year action plan,” tourism minister Paul Papalia said.

The state’s visitation target for the year was 18,000, which Papalia said was far surpassed due to the government’s targeted interstate AFL marketing campaigns.

Evan Hall, chief executive of Tourism Council WA, said the Aus$1.8bn cost of the stadium could be recouped in just 10 years at the current rate. “Effective marketing of good value AFL tourism packages has paid off … these packages are critical to changing the out-of-date perspective that Perth is expensive,” Hall said.

“AFL tourism is driven by great footy and we are blessed with two great local teams drawing big crowds every week. We get twice the matches and twice the tourism as stadiums such as Metricon on the Gold Coast. And to bring it all home, Tourism WA invested in an extremely effective marketing campaign targeting interstate AFL fans.”

Image: Tama Leaver