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Sports Tourism: Explained

May 15, 2015 10:32

What Is Sports Tourism?

Sports Tourism is defined as a specific journey outside of the usual environment for either a passive or active involvement in a competitive sport where that sport is the prime reason of travel and the leisure experience comes naturally with the journey itself as it is a new place for the journeyman. Another definition worth noting explains sport tourism as a combination of sports activities and travel.

The Evolution of Modern Sports Tourism

With its remarkable growth, Sports Tourism is now a recognized emerging market. Indeed, over the past twenty years, the interest in sport especially elite sporting events has grown at a phenomenal rate.

Sports tourism events at the international, national and regional levels have a double-sided effect – the direct effect of the attendance of the competitors and/or spectators, and the indirect effect of the marketing of the venue/destination. This makes this industry a very bankable option for economic, cultural and social growth of a particular place.

A Rapid Growing Niche

Today, tourism is the world’s number one industry while sport is regarded as the number one industry in the leisure sector. Sport is an integral part of all cultures, and while often viewed as a separate activity, it is inextricably linked to tourism, rather you can call certain sports AS cultures, Cricket in India, Football in Latin America and Europe, Rugby in England and American Football in Northern America.

A lot of countries are developing 'sports cities' just to cater to elite sports or Olympic sports to boost their tourism. Major Sporting events like the Olympics and the Cricket and Football World Cups garner a massive spectator head count since the sports are extremely popular. These concepts enable destinations to stand out amongst their competitors and increase their competitive edge in the international arena.

Sports Tourism is a multi-billion dollar business, one of the fastest growing areas of the $4.5 trillion global travel and tourism industry. It has become a vast international business attracting media coverage, investment, political interest, traveling participants and spectators.

Thus, Sports Tourism has started to earn its reputation to be a multi-million dollar business. Trends in tourism over the last decade have shown that sports tourism is emerging as a very significant segment of the global tourist market.

The Worldwide Phenomenon

To date, sports and active recreation have become very large and successful industries worldwide. A 1994 European Commission Report of the European Community and Sport estimated that sports industry is responsible for 2.5 percent of world trade.

The Evolution of Modern Sports Tourism

Over the last 10 years, the global sports industry has seen rapid changes and innovations fueled by a range of driving factors such as the increase in leisure time and spending, the appetite of 'consumers'(fans), new distribution methods and the deregulation of Television Broadcasting.

In a separate study in Australia, sports tourism sector accounts for about 55% of the total tourism market. Across both international and domestic tourism, sports tourism in Australia account for annual expenditure of about $3 billion per annum.

In 1998, 37% of Canada’s 73.7 million domestic trips were for sports tourism purposes. In Canada, sport tourists are defined as individuals who traveled and in doing so participated in or attended a sports event during the reference period. Sport tourists account for between 2.5 and 5 million individuals from June to September, July and August being the most popular months for sport tourist activities (15% and 18%).

While sport tourism in South Africa is yet to be established, sports tourism (spectator and participant) makes up four percent (4%) of its domestic tourism market. This appeared following the launching of South Africa Sports Tourism (SAST) by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the Ministry of Sport and Recreation in October 1997, after it specifically identified sports tourism as an avenue for the development and promotion of tourism in its study.

In the case of the United States of America, the Travel Industry Association of America found that in the past five years, 38 percent of US adults attended an organized event, competition or tournament as a spectator or participant, while on a trip of 50 miles or more.

The British Tourist Authority and English Tourism Board claim as many as 20 percent of tourist trips are for the prime purpose of sports participation, while up to 50 percent of holidays include incidental sports participation. This level of activity is broadly consistent with Canadian data, with the 1998 Canadian Travel Survey finding that 37% of domestic trips that year were for sports-related purposes. 

The Education aspect behind Sports Tourism

Sports Tourism isn't only limited to Travel, Spectator ship and TV rights but also in the Education sector. Young athletes may travel in search of better infrastructure, better training, better opportunities and better exposure for their sport. In Football, There are numerous football schools where children are exposed to the international form of the sport right from basic concepts of the game to how to play it internationally, this creates highly trained, world class players and they often get opportunities to play in elite clubs and also their respective national teams. Schools like Manchester United Soccer school, La Masia(FC Barcelona), Real Madrid, etc. are famous.

Moreover, similar scenarios are present for sports related fields like Physiotherapy, Stadium Management, Turf Management, Sports Marketing, Administrative staff and other related professions. International Universities offer full-time courses in the Sports Tourism related fields. Making this an all-round profession which caters to numerous aspects of the culture.

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