The growth of sport tourism shows no sign of slowing down. It is now believed to be the fastest growing segment within the travel industry.
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Sport is big business
Cities and nations wager millions to stage sporting events such as a World Cup, the Olympics or the UEFA Champions League Final. In return, cities expect millions more from sponsors, developers and visitors. The estimated size of the global
Global sponsorship spending grew 4.6% in 2016 to $60.1 billion, according to IEG, a sponsorship consultancy company (ESP Properties, 2017).
According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, 2016 was the seventh consecutive year of sustained growth following the 2009 global economic and financial crisis (UNWTO, 2017). Consequently, 300 million more international tourists travelled the world in 2016 as compared with the pre-crisis record in 2008.
What is sport tourism?
In 2009, Weed and Bull broadened the definition by underscoring that
Sport tourism as an academic discipline has evolved considerably in the past two decades. Textbooks, academic conferences, undergraduate and graduate degree programmes and a scientific journal, Journal of Sport and Tourism, now exist.
Sport tourism trends
Growth in Asia
Given the influence of globalisation in emerging markets, it is not surprising that sponsorship spending in the Asia-Pacific region was the fastest growing of any region in 2016 at 5.7% (ESP Properties, 2017).
Similar to the sport industry trends, Asia and the Pacific (+8%) led growth in international tourist arrivals in 2016 (UNWTO, 2017). This growth may be because of the legacy effects of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as events in the lead-up to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games both in Japan.
Asia might be benefiting the most at the moment but sport-related tourism is now presenting major opportunities for both emerging and mature destinations (UNWTO, 2016).
According to the UNWTO (2016), Eurosport has recently estimated that
According to the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC, 2015), visitor spending associated with
Entertaining, emotional and invasive
Sport tourism combines the best and worst of both the sport and tourism industries. Sport is a universal language, involving competition, conflict, emotion and often-entertaining drama.
Tourism by its very nature is invasive, involving host-guest interactions and impacts. Usually,
Many sports fans (particularly football fans) are branded as “yobs”. They often leave litter behind and cause destruction. However, this isn’t always the case, the Japanese culture is to leave the place just as neat as they had found it. These positive messages help the growth of
This is my favourite moment of the World Cup so far; Japan fans picking up litter after their victory vs Columbia. The lessons in life we can take from the game. Why I support 🇯🇵 #class✅#respect✅#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/FyYLhAGDbi— Christopher McKaig (@Coachmckaig) June 19, 2018
Types of sport tourist
Three primary types of sport tourists have been identified: participatory, event-based and celebratory sport tourists.
Participatory sport tourists
Participatory sport tourists travel to destinations to play
Participatory, or active,
Some participatory sport tourists play a dual role in the
Event-based sport tourists
Event-based sport tourists are those who travel to a destination to watch others participate in sport. Examples of
In European football leagues, teams play at home and away every alternate week, those who travel to away games can be considered ‘day trippers’ or ‘excursionist’ event-based tourists. On a larger scale, you could look at the British Open Golf Championships, which is played annually but spread across 10 locations. In 2014 it was hosted at Hoylake in Liverpool and it brought in £75m extra to the city (Shibli, 2015). This is because tourists from all over the world came to Liverpool and the Wirral.
Celebratory sport tourists
Celebratory sport tourists travel to destinations to visit halls of fame, museums, stadiums and other places of remembrance. Numerous celebratory sport tourism attractions exist.
Thousands of people each year pay their pounds to tour an empty Wimbledon Tennis Centre. The National Olympic Stadium of the 2008 Beijing Games, known as the Bird’s Nest, has become a regular stop on domestic tourist itineraries and will host the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Games.
The Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona attracted 32 million tourists in 2017. This came from football games but also the very popular tours they offer. The club estimates that 10,000 of its 78,000 average for each weekend league game are one-off visitors from outside Spain. Announcements on the public address system are in Catalan and there’s a welcome in English, but not Spanish.
The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA attracts 250,000 visitors each year, of which 20% are from outside the United States. The Hillerich & Bradsby Company, makers of the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball bat, receives 300,000 paying visitors annually to see the manufacturing process in its factory. Table 22.1 contains examples of
Sport tourism destinations
Table 22.1 Halls of Fame and Sport Museum Names and Locations
|Hall of fame or sport museum||Location|
|British Golf Museum||St Andrews, United Kingdom|
|California Surf Museum||Oceanside, California, USA|
|Hockey Hall of Fame||Toronto, Canada|
|National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum||Cooperstown, New York, USA|
|Negro Leagues Baseball Museum||Kansas City, Missouri, USA|
|FIFA World Football Museum||Zurich, Switzerland|
|Gilles Villeneuve Museum||Montréal, Quebec, Canada|
|Holmenkollen Ski Museum||Oslo, Norway|
|Marylebone Cricket Club Museum||Lords, United Kingdom|
|Olympic Museum||Lausanne, Switzerland|
|Springbok Experience – South African Rugby Museum||Cape Town, South Africa|
|Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum||Wimbledon, United Kingdom|
|World Rugby Museum||Twickenham, United Kingdom|
Constraining factors may limit a person’s travel behaviour to participate in a
External constraints include a lack of time and money, geographical distance and a lack of facilities, whereas internal constraints refer to factors such as personal capacities, abilities, knowledge, and interests (Francken & van Raiij, 1981).
Economic impact – Is it worth it?
Economic impact studies are one of the most common forms of evaluating sport tourism events. Despite their widespread use,
In a study conducted on all the Olympics Games from 1964 to just before 2016, the most expensive Olympics was the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at $21.9 billion. The cost overrun for Sochi was 298%, compared with the second highest cost overrun for the London Games at 76% (Flyberg, Stewart, & Budzier, 2016). Mega-events are bid on primarily for the expected value added to the host city. An economic impact study essentially measures how much value the event adds to the city. Put another way, what would be missing from the economy without the event?
Visitors drawn by a major
How much does the average sport event tourist spend per trip?
The answer depends on the nature of the
Greig and McQuaid (2003) conducted spectator interviews at two one-day rugby international matches in Edinburgh, Scotland (Scotland versus England and Scotland versus France), to estimate the economic impact on the region and city. The study revealed that the origin of spectators differed between matches, naturally reflecting the origins of the visiting teams, and a clear association was found between the distance spectators came to watch the match and the amount they spent.
Prestigious events = more visitors and higher spending and more growth of sport tourism
The prestige of a
Competing in a world championship is for most a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and such events often attract large numbers of spectators who are relatives or friends of the athletes. The Olympic Games and world cups are the most prestigious events in the world for the sports they cover because of their global nature, scale and frequency. Grand Slam events in tennis (Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon) and golf (Master’s, British and U.S. Open and PGA Championship) are more prestigious than other events. History, prize money, media coverage, scarcity and the field of competitors influence perceived prestige. The growth of
The composition of a tournament field and its “star power” influence the media attention, gallery size and economic impact. An annual event such as the U.S. Open golf championship may experience significant fluctuations in attendance, spectator market segment proportionality and spending from year to year. A case in point is what became known as the Tiger Woods effect, whereby weekend ratings were 58% higher in tournaments in which Tiger played (Sandomir, 2008).
Summary of the growth of sport tourism
Sport tourism continues to grow all over the world, developed nations are seeing growth as are many developing nations, especially in Asia.
The main constraints appear to be money and time but as the world becomes smaller and richer there are greater opportunities. As the world has become more health savvy participatory tourism is also growing.
Event-based sport tourism involves sport participants as the focal attraction and typically, spectators, some of whom may be visitors to the host city. Most research on
- North America
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Western Europe
- Eastern Europe
- The Arab World
- South and Southeast Asia
- Northeast Asia
Part four covers management essentials such as intercultural management and the importance of human resources. Macroeconomics and the business of international sport are also discussed.
Part five talks further about the growth of sport tourism as well as digital media, fantasy sports and marketing including branding.
The sixth and final part looks at corruption in sport, corporate social responsibility and looks into future agendas.
International Sport Management, 2nd Edition
Eric MacIntosh, Gonzalo Bravo & Ming Li