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  • Writer's pictureFranky Wong

A Trend You Can’t Ignore: Sports Tourism

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

It's not just a healthier version of your favourite pastime. We reveal the rise, types and upcoming happenings about the hottest travel trend.

Can’t wait to pack and go for your first trip after the three-year travel ban? Thank you, for being part of the economic stimulus. Many countries are busy offsetting the damage the pandemic has done to the domestic economy and tourism, particularly sports tourism, is on the agenda.

Tourism and sports are interrelated and complementary – more so than you imagined. Sport, be it a professional, amateur or leisure activity, involves a considerable amount of travelling to play and compete in different destinations and countries. Major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, football and rugby championships have become powerful tourism attractions in themselves – making a very positive contribution to the tourism image of the host destination.

Every sport event can be a mini Olympics – when it comes to the effects

Sports tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism. Mega sport events such as Olympics and World Cups can be a catalyst for tourism development if successfully leveraged in terms of destination branding, infrastructure development and other economic and social benefits.

And it’s not necessarily on the level up high. On the demand side, more and more tourists are interested in sport activities during their trips, whether sports are the main objective of travel or not. On the supply side, the destination, or organiser to be precise, of sport events of various kinds and sizes are trying to expand the base of target audience to tourists as participants or spectators. That’s why you’ve seen more and more distinguished, unique event IDs that offer authentic local experiences as one of the key participant takeaways, where common tactics include theme, race design and game mechanism/contents that are rich in local flavours.

More choices and destinations than you’d imagine

Many believe that sports tourism means watching a sports game. This is SO NOT true! The sports industry definitely has much more than this to offer. There are at least four types of sport tourism based on purposes, which you would travel for:

  1. Attending a sporting event as a spectator, say, in a Formula One race or a Premiership football match.

  2. Your own sporting goals, such as attending a coach training course for certification, joining a badminton tournament, or to learn to surf.

  3. Business, such as hosting a regional running event or a yoga retreat camp.

  4. Sightseeing and visiting places of historical importance, for example, the Beijing ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium (built for the 2008 Olympics).

For Hong Kong, upcoming sports events on the radar in the peak season for sports (aka autumn/winter) include marathon and cyclothon. Which one are you joining? We can’t wait to see you in Hong Kong real soon!

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