Significant growth of sports tourism

The growth of sports tourism is not slowing down. It is now considered to be the fastest-growing segment of the tourism industry. We offer you to find out more about the success of this direction and what the future holds for sports tourism.

Sport is big business

Cities and countries invest millions in organizing sporting events such as the World Cup, the Olympic Games or the UEFA Champions League final. In return, cities expect millions more from sponsors, developers and visitors. The size of the global industry is estimated at 1.7 trillion dollars (Plunkett Research Group).

According to the consulting firm IEG (ESP Properties, 2017), global sponsorship spending grew by 4.6% in 2016 to USD 60.1 billion.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, 2016 was the seventh consecutive year of stable growth after the global economic and financial crisis of 2009 (UN WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION, 2017). Thus, in 2016 international tourists traveled around the world by 300 million more compared to the record of the pre-crisis year 2008.

What is sports tourism?

Sports tourism is defined as tourism that temporarily takes people outside their home environment to participate in, watch physical activities or enjoy attractions related to physical activities and sports (Gibson, 1998).

In 2009, Weeds and Bulls expanded the definition by emphasizing that tourism is a social, economic and cultural phenomenon that results from the unique interaction between activities, people and place. Therefore, several activities are related to tourism.

Sport tourism as an academic discipline has developed significantly over the past two decades. Now there are textbooks, scientific conferences, bachelor's and master's programs, scientific journals and portals like

Trends in sports tourism 

Growth in Asia

Given the impact of globalization on emerging markets, it is not surprising that sponsorship spending in Asia Pacific grew the fastest of all regions in 2016 at 5.7% (ESP Properties, 2017).

Similar to trends in the sports industry, Asia Pacific ( 8%) led the growth in international tourist arrivals in 2016 (UNCTO, 2017). This growth can be attributed to the impact of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as the events leading up to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Japan.

Globalized growth

Asia is currently benefiting the most, but sports-related tourism now offers great opportunities for both emerging and mature destinations (UNVTO, 2016).

According to the United Nations Security Council (2016), Eurosport recently estimated that the value of tourism is $800 billion (DKK 610 billion/710 billion), representing more than 10% of international travel and tourism revenues.

According to the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC, 2015), tourism-related visitor spending in the United States was $8.96 billion with 25.65 million sports visitors. In addition, tourism accounts for 25% of all tourism receipts, and in Australia and parts of Denmark, this figure reaches 55%.

Entertaining, emotional, and aggressive

Sports tourism combines the best and the worst of both the sports and tourism industries. Sport is a universal language that includes competition, conflict, emotion and often entertaining drama.

Tourism is inherently invasive, involving interaction and exposure between host and guest. Tourism usually brings money, pride and entertainment to a city, but it is not always about happy tourists and their spending. Sometimes it can lead to congestion, queues, environmental degradation, fights, higher prices and anger among local residents.

Many sports fans (especially football fans) are called "yobs". They often leave droppings and cause destruction. However, this is not always the case, Japanese culture is to leave a place as beautiful as they found it. These positive messages contribute to the growth of tourism.

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