World Cup fever has us planning our next trip to the US right now, says Sarah Lax, vice-chairman, Visit USA (UK)

Here we are in another World Cup tournament – how quickly the time has gone since Rio in 2014.

Last month it was announced that the US will co-host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico. ‘Soccer’ is really making its mark in the US and is the second-fastest-growing sport.

When you take a look at the 16 proposed venues for the tournament, it highlights the diversity that is on offer across the country. Venues range from the major cosmopolitan areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami (where no doubt David Beckham will play a role with his Major League Soccer team), Washington DC and Dallas, through to Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, Seattle, Philadelphia, Kansas, Denver, Houston and Baltimore. Imagine the road trip you could have visiting each stadium.

Pitch perfect

The different scenery and unique experiences that each of these destinations offers reinforce how much there is to see and do in the US, and what a fantastic holiday destination it is, no matter how many times you have been there before.

When I looked at that list of venues, I realised there are still so many places I have yet to discover. The great American road trip is always on everyone’s bucket list, and what’s really encouraging is that each year airlift into the US is increasing. This year saw not only new direct routes out of the UK to destinations such as Nashville, but also the establishment of regional hubs across the UK to the US. Manchester has seen an increase in direct flying to the US, and this growth pattern will continue into 2019, with frequencies increasing on key routes.

New and exciting hotel properties and lodgings are continually being opened, which will offer something for every type of traveller and every budget. This is why it comes as no surprise that specialist US operators are adding new and diverse itineraries and destinations, from Hawaii to Alaska. The theme parks are forever adding hotels, rides and attractions that will entice both the first-time traveller and those on a return visit.

Golden goal

The World Cup will attract not only diehard football fans, but also those who are curious about some of these secondary and tertiary destinations that will have the spotlight shone on them over the next few years, as the World Cup hype starts in earnest.

Over the next few years, we too will be able to learn more about these diverse destinations, and from the publicity and media hype we will all gain a greater understanding of the US.

The prospect of the World Cup in 2026 will show us the best route from one city to another, reinforcing the fact that there is so much more to the country than the major gateways – and yes, you should stay as long as you can in order to explore this exciting and diverse nation.

Who would have thought that a football tournament could bring so many benefits? Take advantage of the destination knowledge and insights that will indirectly come your way via the language of football, and use this to the best of your ability to keep selling the US.