Swansea City: Fans dress as Elvis, and businesses enjoy Premier League stay
- 13 May 2012
- From the section South West Wales
It has been quite a debut Premier League year for Swansea City, and fans and some businesses are lapping it up.
Many supporters dressed as Elvis Presley for Sunday's final game of the season at home to Liverpool.
Manager Brendan Rodgers urged fans to go as Elvis after proving wrong bookies who had said Presley was more likely to return than City stay up.
Some hoteliers say they have also reaped the benefit of the Premier League, with bookings up.
Swansea became the first Welsh club to reach the Premier League a year ago, and shocked many pundits by beating Manchester City and Arsenal, and drawing with Chelsea and Tottenham.
"I will be asking all of the fans if they can wear as many Elvis Presley costumes as we can," said Rodgers.
"When we got promoted, the bookies said there was a greater chance of seeing Elvis than us staying at this level.
"As a show of our achievement and a bit of fun, we will ask our supporters for that and we will see what the reaction is."
Fancy dress shops have since reported sales of Elvis wigs and costumes and the Swans are also offering free downloadable Elvis masks on their website.
Rob Guy, co-owner of Mardi Gras fancy dress shop in the city centre is delighted by the response.
"The fans are really taking this on," he said. "It's going to be incredible to see on Sunday.
"We've sold a lot of the Elvis face masks, wigs and glasses."
Swansea have won many plaudits for their flowing, passing football on the pitch and next season will be able to celebrate their centenary in the top flight.
But the city has also been reaping the rewards off the pitch.
Swansea council says activity on its visit Swansea Bay website is up 44% on the previous year.
According to hotel consultancy service PKF, hotel occupancy has risen 9% between September 2011 and March 2012, on the previous year, outperforming Wales and the rest of the UK.
Ian Harding-Jones, general manager for Mercure, about a mile away from the Liberty Stadium, said: "I think for me it's defied expectations.
"We've averaged 20 rooms per game and I'd say 70% of them have been two-night stays.
"If you're driving all the way from Newcastle, Sunderland or Manchester, you're not going to drive up and back in a day."
Mr Harding-Jones said supporters have been sent in the direction of Mumbles and the Gower, and some have returned to Swansea over the Easter and May bank holidays.
David Pickernell, a professor of economic policy at the University of Glamorgan said Swansea being in the Premier League should be part of the overall strategy for promoting the city for economic development more widely.
He added: "I think it's also about trying to promote the football and sport more widely in the area as activities that tourists who aren't coming there for the football or rugby to offer that as being an additional attraction as well."