(Last update: 09/03/2023)
Sports tourism is BIG business. We all know that sports tourism involves a sporting activity, that's pretty obvious, but there is much more than a sports game to this multi-billion dollar global industry. In this article I will explain what sports tourism is, I will tell you about the different types of sports tourism and I will talk about the benefits of sports tourism.
What is sports tourism?
Sports tourism is the act of traveling from one location to another, with the intention of participating in some way in a sporting activity or event.
Many people believe that sports tourism refers only to watching a sporting event. However, this is not correct. The sports industry is much more than that.
Sports tourism covers travel for sporting purposes, such as a yoga teacher training course, a badminton competition or to learn to surf. Sports tourism includes attending sporting events such as a Formula 1 race or a La Liga or Premier League football match.
El turismo deportivo incluye visitas nostálgicas a lugares de importancia histórica, como el estadio olímpico de Barcelona, o para ver recuerdos relacionados con tu héroe deportivo favorito, como el museo del estadio de fútbol Maracaná de Río de Janeiro.
In fact, there are four main types of sports tourism. These types are known as:
- Sports event tourism
- Active sports tourism
- Nostalgic Sports Tourism
- Passive sports tourism
Although sports tourism has not always been extremely popular, over the last decade the number of people attending sporting events outside the area has increased dramatically. People now travel everywhere just to attend their favorite events, and it's no wonder what has fueled this sudden surge in popularity.
Furthermore, also within sports tourism, there is the modality that many football fans apply during their vacations to different cities. It consists of visiting or taking a tour to the stadium of big European or world clubs.
Definitions of sports tourism
Sports tourism is a relatively new concept, although it has been around for a long time.
There are many academic studies that delve into the concept of sports tourism, especially sports tourism that involves major sporting events, such as the soccer World Cup or the Olympic Games. Some sports tourism scholars and agents have attempted to define the term sports tourism.
According to Neirotti (2003), sports tourism can be broadly described as:
includes travel outside the main residence to participate in sporting activities, for recreational or competitive purposes, travel to observe grassroots or elite sport, and travel to visit a sporting attraction, such as a sports museum, for example.
Weed and Bull (2004) offer a conceptualization of the phenomenon of sports tourism as:
"a social, economic and cultural phenomenon that arises from the unique interaction of activity, people and place"
Gammon and Robinson (2003) state that sport and tourism are:
"It is not only about the management and operation of mega-events, but also about offering sports tourists specific services and experiences related to sports and tourism for the consumer."
For example the website tourestadio.com is dedicated to providing information about stadium tours around the world. It is a good example of a website focused on the specific football stadium niche within the sports tourism sector.
Sports tourism statistics
Today, sport is considered the largest social phenomenon in the world. And tourism is projected to become the world's largest industry by the beginning of the next century. So it doesn't take a genius to realize that sports tourism is big business.
The sports tourism industry has grown considerably in recent years. In 2016, the sports tourism industry was worth $1.41 trillion, and this figure is expected to increase to approximately $5.72 trillion in 2021. This is huge growth in 41% in just four years!
The sports tourism industry constitutes an important part of the global tourism industry. Some people claim that this figure reaches 25%, which means that a quarter of all tourism in the world is related to sports!
The importance of sports tourism is further highlighted in statements to the media of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which in 2004 announced their commitment to strengthening their collaborative partnerships in the field of sport and tourism. This is what they declared:
Tourism and sport are interrelated and complementary… both are powerful forces for development, stimulating investment in infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, stadiums, sports complexes and restaurants, projects that can be enjoyed by both local people and tourists. who come to use them»
This shows that sports tourism has a broader economic and social impact than just the sporting event itself. It provides social and economic opportunities to local people, as well as visitors to the area.
The Qatar 2022 World Cup is a very good example of sports tourism.
The different types of sports tourism
Sports tourism can be divided into four main types: sports event tourism, nostalgia sports tourism, active sports tourism and passive sports tourism. Below I have given a brief explanation of what each type of tourism is, along with some examples.
Sports events tourism
Sports event tourism is tourism that revolves around a sporting event. Sports events can be of any size and importance, but it is usually the major sporting events that acquire the greatest importance.
Iconic events, such as the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup, are important hubs for sporting event tourism, attracting millions of tourists to the host destination.
Smaller events, such as the Henley Regatta in the United Kingdom or a national tennis competition, are also clarified as sporting event tourism.
An often overlooked example of sporting event tourism is amateur sporting events. Examples include regional school competitions, youth sports leagues, and non-profit community sports events.
Wimbledon, also known as "The Championship", is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. A prestigious sporting event, Wimbledon is often associated with the upper class, where spectators sip sparkling wine and Pimms while dressing in their finest.
Knowing very little about tennis, I attended Wimbledon a couple of years ago just to experience this famous event, which is an integral part of British heritage.
Since 1877, Wimbledon has been held every year at the All England Club in Wimbledon, just outside London. Tennis is played on outdoor grass courts, unlike tennis matches played in many other parts of the world.
Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open.
The tournament is held every year at the end of June or beginning of July.
The Football World Cup, officially known as the FIFA World Cup, is an international football tournament held every four years.
The place International Association Football Federation (FIFA) is the world governing body of the sport. Soccer is made up of exclusively male teams and employs the most skilled soccer players in the world.
Teams must first overcome the qualifying phase, which takes place during the previous three years. Afterwards, 32 teams, including the host country that automatically qualifies, compete in the tournament. The World Cup tournament usually lasts about a month.
Six Nations Rugby Championship
The Six Nations Championship is an annual international rugby union competition. Those considered to be the six best rugby nations in Europe participate in it. The six nations are:
The Six Nations tournament begins on the first weekend in February each year and ends with "Super Saturday", the second or third Saturday in March.
Each team must play every other team once (for a total of 15 matches). Each team will play one game at home and one away.
I once attended a Six Nations match and, although I don't really like rugby (surprise!), I really enjoyed the sophisticated and supportive atmosphere of the place.
The Olympic Games
Inspired by the ancient Greeks, the modern Olympic Games have been held since 1896. But in fact, the games have been contested in one form or another since long before this date.
The Olympic Games are perhaps the most famous and popular international sporting event. It includes summer and winter sports competitions held every four years. Like many other major sporting events, the Olympics are held in a different location each time.
The Olympics involve thousands of athletes from around the world competing in a range of different sports, from trampoline to track and field. More than 200 nations participate in the event.
The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the annual championship of the National Football League (NFL). Based in the United States of America, it is the most popular sports tourism event of the year.
Some interesting facts are that the Super Bowl is the second day of highest food consumption in the US (after Thanksgiving) and that the Super Bowl is the most watched American television broadcast of the year
Nostalgic sports tourism
Nostalgia sports tourism involves traveling to famous sports-related tourist attractions.
Nostalgic sports tourism It can celebrate sports from the past or present. It may include visiting museums or exhibitions, visiting sports halls of fame, or visiting sports facilities.
The nostalgic sports tourist does not need to actively participate in the sport or be a spectator. They may simply want to know more or reminisce.
Here are some examples of popular nostalgic sports tourism attractions.
Calgary Olympic Park
We visited the Calgary Olympic Park while traveling through Canada with a baby and we loved it!
WinSport's Canada Olympic Park (COP) (formerly known as Paskapoo Ski Hill) was one of the facilities used in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Today, it is open to the general public and is well known for its jumps. skiing, bobsleigh and luge.
Although we learned a little about the Olympics on our visit, we spent more time sledding than anything else, because it was so much fun!
The Maracanã is a famous football stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The stadium is rich in history and was once the largest stadium in the world.
The stadium was opened in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup. On 26 occasions it has recorded an attendance of 150,000 spectators or more. Over time, the stands were replaced with seats, and following renovation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Maracanã's original capacity was reduced to 78,838 spectators.
Nowadays, it is popular to take a trip to visit the Maracaná stadium, like I did when I traveled to Buenos Aires with my friend, who is crazy about soccer!
Barcelona Olympic Park
The Olympic Village, known in Spanish as The Olympic Village of Poblenou is an area of the Sant Martí district of Barcelona, Spain
The Barcelona Olympic Village was built in the late 1980s and early 1990s to prepare for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, which were held in Barcelona.
Nowadays, visiting the Barcelona Olympic Village is a popular sports tourism activity carried out by many tourists visiting Barcelona.
Active sports tourism
We talk about active sports tourism when a person travels to actively participate in the sport they have chosen, or when they travel for other reasons, but practicing sports is an important part of their tourist experience.
Active sports tourists can be classified into three categories: The amateur sports tourist; the amateur sports tourist and the professional sports tourist
Yo diría que, en general, pertenezco a la primera categoría. Soy un aficionado (¡en el mejor de los casos!) en todos los deportes que practico. Pero me gusta intentarlo He intentado esquiar en Argentina, hacer kayak en Vietnam y surfear en Costa Rica, por nombrar sólo algunos
My husband, on the other hand, is usually an amateur sports tourist or a professional sports tourist. He plays on badminton and soccer teams and loves to play a variety of sports in his free time. He is also a former athlete, having competed for Great Britain as a trampoline gymnast. As part of this role, he traveled around the world to participate in professional sports competitions. This qualified him as a professional sports tourist.
There are a large number of active sports that a tourist can participate in all over the world. These are some of the ones I have practiced on my travels. But there are many other sports that you can participate in as a sports tourist.
- Diving in the Galapagos
- Swimming in the Great Barrier Reef
- Play tennis in Morocco
- Learn archery in Spain
- Running in France
- Cycling in Amsterdam
- Yoga classes in Bali
- Learn tai chi in China
- Kayaking in Vietnam
- Sailing in Australia
- Skiing in Argentina
- Surfing in Costa Rica
- Play baseball in Boston
- Planning by hand in Rio de Janeiro
- Fishing in Gambia
- Climbing in thailand
- Horse riding in Ecuador
- Hiking in Jeju
Here are some examples of active sports tourism
Tough Mudder Race, London
Have I ever told you that I completed a Tough Mudder race? It was a GREAT achievement! You can read it all here- Tough Mudder- 5 reasons for and against
Tough Mudder is a test of endurance. It is an obstacle course, originally designed for army training. It's a test for the mind and body
The race is usually between 10 and 12 miles long. It includes a series of obstacles, many of them muddy! Obstacles often play on the most common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity, and heights.
**Buy now Sport and tourism – a recommended textbook for sports studies students!**
The most common obstacles are
- Arctic Enema – Participants are immersed in a tank filled with ice water, where they must swim underwater and overcome an obstacle to reach the other side.
- Electroshock therapy: Participants run through a mud pit in which electric cables swing in the air. Participants will often receive small electric shocks
- Funky Monkey – Monkey bars over a cold water hole. The bars are covered with a mixture of butter and mud.
- Birth canal- A small, confined space through which the participant must crawl. The top layer is filled with water, so it feels like you're being compressed as you crawl through the tunnel.
Of course, you will have to travel to a Tough Mudder venue to be classified as sports tourism, but a lot of people do that!
Martial arts vacation, South Korea
Many people decide to travel to South Korea to enjoy a vacation dedicated to martial arts and taekwondo-related events. They may be amateur sports tourists, amateur sports tourists or professional sports tourists, depending on the level of involvement and type of activity.
Surfing holidays, Portugal
Portugal is a popular destination for surf holidays. You can go on your own, if you have the skills and the “know-how”, or you can book an excursion. There are several tour operators offering specialist surf holidays for sports tourists of all levels, from beginners to advanced.
Golf Trips, Florida
There are several golf venues around the world. One of the most popular places to travel to for a golf vacation is Florida. With its pleasant year-round climate and large open spaces, Florida welcomes golf tourists from all over the world to play on its world-class golf courses.
Yoga Retreats, Bali
There are many parts of Asia known for the popularity of yoga. However, none attracts as many tourists as Bali. Bali is famous around the world for offering top quality yoga retreats and yoga teacher training courses.
Passive sports tourism
Finally, it is important to recognize that although sport is intrinsically asset Not everyone who participates or is involved in sport is active. In fact, passive tourists can contribute further to sport than those who are active!
A passive sports tourist is a person who does not actively participate in sport. They are spectators or fans. Passive sports tourism consists of tourists observing how a sport is practiced. This may occur at a major sporting event (also referred to as sporting event tourism), or they may simply be supporting a family member or friend. Most passive sports tourists are amateurs
Soccer is possibly the best known and most popular sport in the world.
Manchester United is a particularly famous football club. The BBC estimates that Manchester United has a whopping 659 million fans!
I always find it fascinating when I travel to a country so different and so far from my own, but the locals do not hesitate to ask me about Manchester United.
Many sports tourists follow Manchester United, or whichever soccer team is their favorite, around the world to watch their games.
Boxing fans: Anthony Joshua followers
Anthony Joshua is a British professional boxer. He has many millions of followers, both in the UK and abroad.
Anthony is a two-time unified heavyweight champion, having held the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO titles since December 2019, and previously between 2016 and June 2019. At the regional level, he held the British and of the Commonwealth Heavyweights from 2014 to 2016.
Anthony Joshua participates in fights around the world and is often accompanied by his passive sports tourism followers
British & Irish Lions rugby spectators
The British & Irish Lions are a rugby union team selected from players eligible for any of the Home Nations: the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
If rugby is your thing and you are from Great Britain or Ireland, this is something very important
The Lions have many thousands of passive sports tourism followers who deceive them in every game
Australian cricket fans
Cricket is very important in Australia. So big, in fact, that the Australian cricket team is estimated to have around 24 million fans. Many of these fans travel with the team around the world as passive sports tourists.
Benefits of sports tourism
As with any type of tourism, sports tourism has a series of benefits and advantages. Although the most obvious is perhaps the economic advantage of tourism, there are also positive social repercussions, as well as environmental repercussions. Below I present some examples
- Sport encourages tourists to visit the area
- Sports tourism creates economic growth through tourists booking hotel rooms, eating in restaurants and opening money at local stores
- Sports tourism helps create notoriety and improves the positive image of the local community
- Many sports tourism infrastructures and facilities can also be used by members of the host community
- The development of sports tourism contributes to creating a feeling of community
- Sports tourism has the potential to attract high-performance and repeat visitors
- It can provide the opportunity to develop new infrastructure in the area
- The media can help promote the destination
- Sports tourism can improve the total number of tourists
- Money earned from sports tourism can be reinvested in the local economy
- Sports tourism creates jobs for local people
- Sports tourism that is based on the natural environment can lead to better environmental management and conservation
Although sports tourism has many positive repercussions, a series of negative repercussions must also be taken into account. Issues such as the degradation of the environment in the goldfields, the hiring of foreigners instead of locals for major sporting events, and locals feeling that their cultural norms are ignored (such as not covering your shoulders in the Middle East, for example). example), are just some examples of negative impacts of sports tourism
Sports tourism: Conclusion
It is clear that sports tourism is big business. Whether it is event sports tourism, active sports tourism, nostalgic sports tourism or passive sports tourism, there is a huge market for tourists from all over the world. However, as with any type of tourism, sports tourism must be carefully managed to ensure its sustainability.
You can check this post about another type of tourism such as glamping.
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I am a passionate traveler with an innate desire to discover the world. To date, I have had the privilege of visiting 31 countries and most of them have left an indelible mark.
During my travels, I have gained valuable knowledge on how to travel efficiently. I have perfected itinerary planning, accommodation selection, and making the most of each experience. I am proud to share my tips and tricks with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free and unforgettable trips.
On this blog, you'll find a carefully curated selection of destinations, practical tips, and honest reviews of hotels and tourist attractions. My goal is to inspire you and provide you with useful resources so that you can plan your own adventures with confidence and peace of mind.
May travel fill you with joy and open you up to new possibilities!