Sports Tourism: The importance of mega-sporting events

13th Jul 2011
Sports Tourism: The importance of mega-sporting events

Visa has launched a new report illustrating the positive impact of mega-sporting events and the influence they have on tourism spending in the event host countries.

The report analyzes Visa cardholder spending patterns, known as VisaVue Travel data, of three recent mega-events: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games.

According to the report, events of this scale create significant increases in expenditure and give host countries a chance to shine on the global stage.

For each of the three events analysed, there was healthy growth in Visa payment card expenditure during the event compared to the year prior:

  • 82 per cent for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

  • 93 per cent for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

  • 15 per cent for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

    “These three events have been catalysts of economic recovery for the host country and nations surrounding it in terms of international tourism spending,” explained Antonio Lucio, Visa’s chief marketing officer

    Olympic Games

    One of the key factors for any Olympic host city and country is the legacy that is left behind.

    It is critical for countries to be in a position to leverage the global attention events like the Olympic Games can generate, as well as maximize investments made in preparation for the influx of inbound travellers.

    In Beijing, visitors from the US, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan accounted for more than half of all Visa card spend in China from August 8th-25th 2008.

    During that period, there were approximately 840,000 Visa transactions with an average daily spend of $10.6 million from international cardholders.

    Vancouver experienced double digit growth in the total tourism spending by inbound Visa cardholders during the months of February and March compared to the same time period in 2009.

    In the heart of the Games, from February 12th-28th, there were approximately 1.14 million Visa transactions, with an average daily spend of $7.2 million from international cardholders.

    These figures will have tourism insiders in London licking their lips in anticipation, with just a year to go before the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.

    Beijing’s ‘Bird’s nest’ stadium became an icon of the 2008 Olympic Games

    FIFA World Cup

    Daily Visa payment card expenditures made by all non-South Africans while in South Africa during the period from June 1st, 2010 until July 31st, 2010 were compared to similar data for the same two month period in 2009.

    As the FIFA World Cup itself lasted from June 11th to July 11th, 2010, the data set provided comparative information for ten days before and ten days after the competition.

    According to this data, the FIFA World Cup provided a platform for South Africa to showcase their nation to the world, up-levelling their global status and tourism levels increased throughout the year.

    While the FIFA World Cup played a significant role in the growth experienced in June and July, visitor arrivals were amplified all year.

    Spending levels by international Visa cardholders travelling to South Africa in December ($220M) and January ($200M) even rivalled the June ($222M) and July ($204M) World Cup months.

    According to Burke: “What is particularly encouraging is the strong indication that in the mega-sporting events analysed for this report, tourism-related spending increased substantially during the events and far beyond any increases that can be attributed to economic recovery only.

    “This report looks to use electronic data generated from international Visa spend transactions as a way to assess visitor spending patterns in the hope that it can provide material that can help destinations in their own planning, bidding and hosting activities.”

    Spain emerged victorious from the FIFA 2010 World Cup

    World Sport Tourism Congress

    Among the first organisations to note the increasing important of mega-sporting events to tourism was World Sports Tourism Congress, which will be examining the impact of the phenomenon during the Rugby World Cup later this year.

    The executive congress will be staged on the luxury cruise ship – the P&O Pacific Dawn – and will comprise four days of inspirational panel debates, cutting edge presentations and priceless networking opportunities.

    “The economies of cities, regions and - in the case of mega-sporting events such as the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup - entire countries are increasingly reliant on combining sport and tourism to jump start economic and socio-economic change,” explained World Sport Tourism Congress global business direction Sion Rapson.

    “Tourists engaged in sport tourism are often higher-spending, stay longer than other tourist categories, are of a higher-caliber and often stimulate other tourism.

    “Their direct benefit to a destination is cash, but their indirect benefit can be years of follow-on tourists.”

    The fully inclusive cruise package departs from Auckland on the October 10th, returning on the October 14th prior to the Rugby World Cup Semi Finals.

    The full programme can be seen here, while there is more information on the official website.

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