Sports tourism: A booming sector

Sports tourism: A booming sector

The year 2010 promises to be one of the most memorable for sports fans across the globe. With the Winter Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, and Commonwealth Games just three of the mega-events in the calendar, sports travel is proving to be one of the most lucrative sectors of the tourism industry.

Breaking Travel News puts the spotlight on the major events contributing to this US$600billion-a-year industry.


Event: 2008 summer Olympic Games

While there has been conflicting reports about visitor numbers and profit amounts, one thing that cannot be doubted is how the 2008 Olympics acted as a catalyst for growth in Beijing and China.

In preparation more than 37 stadiums and venues were built; a new terminal designed by Norman Foster was opened at Beijing International Airport; and more than 109 hotel projects took place. And in February it was revealed that the north section of the iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium would be transformed into an 80-room hotel.

The legacy of the Olympics include the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai; the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in November this year; and the Summer Youth Games in Nanjing in 2014.


Event: 2012 summer Olympic Games

Although it will be London hosting the majority of the sporting events during the 2012 Olympics, regional tourism boards around the United Kingdom are gunning for tourism success in the years after the Games are held.

Tourism has been identified as the number one Olympic legacy and research by VisitBritain and Visit London indicates that for the UK as a whole the Olympic Games could generate tourism gains of £2.1bn in total from 2007-2017. In fact the legacy effect for the post-Games period (2013-17) is forecast to be worth £1.27bn for the UK, nearly a third of which (£400million) falls outside London.



Event: 2014 Winter Olympic Games

The Black Sea coastal city will see huge investment for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games – with more than 180 infrastructure facilities seeing upgrades or new construction.

Among the infrastructure changes include improvements to Sochi International Airport; a new Sochi Metro; roads; rail links and 42,437 hotel rooms.

The most ambitious project is Federation Island – a 350-hectare artificial island costing US$6.2bn.
Built in the shape of the Russian Federation, it will have private residences, hotels and cultural and leisure facilities on seven main islands and more than 12 private islands.


Events: 2014 World Cup finals and 2016 Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro)

When Rio de Janeiro was named host city of the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil celebrated a World Cup and Olympic double jackpot.

To capitalise on the two mega-events the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism and its tourism board Embratur announced a 10-year strategy for 2010-2020.

Key targets for the 2010-2020 period include achieving a 113 per cent increase in international tourism, ending with 11.1 million inbound, foreign visitors; a 304 per cent increase in foreign currency derived from foreign tourist spending within Brazil, garnering US$17.6billion; and an increase in visitors by 500,000 in 2014 (as compared to 2013), and by 15 per cent in 2016 (as compared to 2015).

Rio’s bid also guaranteed that more than 52,800 hotel rooms would be available with more than 50 hotels built from scratch.


Sporting spectacles such as golf’s Majors, tennis grand slams and thousands of amateur tournaments are also generating tourism dollars worldwide. Here is the best of the rest:

Tour de France – Holland/Belgium/France (July 2010)

Held over 20 stages, the 97th Tour de France will start in the Dutch city of Rotterdam before visiting Brussels and Spa in Belgium and then locations across France. In 2009 it was estimated that during the 21-day event there were approximately 15 million spectators.

Ryder Cup – Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales (October 2010)

The Europe versus US showdown will enhance Wales’ growing reputation as a golf tourism hotspot. The total number of golf visitors to Wales increased by 19 per cent between 2004-2008 (to 165,900) and according to Ryder Cup Wales, the volume of golfing visitors increased by 50 per cent as a direct result of the Ryder Cup.


Uniquely co-located alongside the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, World Sport Destination Expo (WSDE) is the world’s first exhibition and conference dedicated to showcasing the $600 billion a year sports tourism industry. 

Fully endorsed by the leading authorities in travel and tourism, WSDE will present a momentous first opportunity national tourist boards, host nations and cities, and sporting resorts and hotels to conduct business, source new contacts and markets, gain top-level insights and showcase their brand capabilities on a global stage.

World Sport Destination Expo takes place at the SCC, Johannesburg, 5-9 July 2010