Sport tourism takes centre stage

Sport tourism takes centre stage

After a week that witnessed 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, gathering in London to celebrate 30 years of World Travel Market, sports tourism emerged as the clear front-runner to guide the industry out of economic downturn.

Through a series of specialist events, seminars, press briefings and media launches, sports tourism took take centre stage and was high on the agenda of many leading destinations.

As the industry now looks ahead to next year’s World Sport Destination Expo (WSDE) – the world’s first global sport tourism exhibition dedicated to the travel and tourism’s fastest growing sector – WTM acknowledged WSDE’s role in manoeuvring sports tourism into the global spotlight.

Professor Tim Coles opened WTM’s Sport Tourism Conference, which also included on the distinguished panel 2010 FIFA South Africa CEO Danny Jordaan, 2010 Winter Olympic VP Susan Iris and London 2012 Games Director Mark Howell. Professor Coles cited WSDE’s research: “Sports tourism is the sleeping giant of the global travel and tourism industry. The findings of WSDE have shown that the sport tourism industry is worth an estimated $600 billion - this is not a niche market but rather a significant part of the global market.”

In an endorsement of the address by Professor Coles (pictured right), senior dignitaries from Rio de Janeiro and Rio C&VB convened with an array of VIP guests at a Gala Reception to both applaud the success and map out the unprecedented future tourism potential of the 2016 Olympic Games.

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WSDE co-hosted the prestigious gathering and used the opportunity to announce that Thomas Cook Sport –  the UK’s leading sports tour operator – had confirmed their participation in next year’s ground breaking sports tourism exhibition.

WSDE Marketing Director Chris Frost said:  “It is with opportune timing that I can now formally announce that Thomas Cook Sport have committed to bringing their senior buyers to WSDE. The interest and support that Rio has received since winning the 2016 bid has been mind blowing. WSDE is now being seen as a critical event in realising the true tourism potential that sport and sporting event can deliver to a destination.”

Danny Talbot, Director of Thomas Cook Sport, said, “As one of the market leaders in sports tourism, we are excited to be involved with World Sport Destination Expo, an event which is a valuable addition to our industry’s annual calendar and something we are very much looking forward to.”

Elsewhere at WTM, Korea Tourism Organisation’s new President and CEO Charm Lee jetted in to unveil an unrivalled sport tourism programme via a special Sports Travel News supplement which is set to cement Korea’s status as a sports business super-power.

Meanwhile India Tourism threw its considerable weight and support behind next October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Sports Tourism was at the forefront of Spain and Portugal’s new marketing strategies and WTM resonated to the sound of traditional vuvuzelas as South Africa starting the celebratory road towards arguably one of the most important events that the world will ever stage - the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

(Left: The Rio delegation at WTM)

South Africa Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said: “The World Cup affords us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the best we have as a tourism destination.” Now South Africa’s travel and tourism industry is geared up to join other national pavilions at WSDE which is seen as a key platform for South Africa to create a lasting tourism legacy from the success of the World Cup. Lindiwe Mahlangu, CEO of Johannesburg Tourism Company said: “By bringing together all the key buyers and suppliers of sport tourism around the world, World Sport Destination Expo will overnight become one of the most important international events in the travel calendar and will undoubtedly be the sports tourism event of the decade.” WSDE is uniquely co-located alongside the climatic final week of the FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg and will run from 5-9 July 2010.

www.worldsportdestinationexpo.com