In the past few years, South Africa has considerably raised its profile as a world-class host of international sports events, from the 2003 Cricket World Cup to the 2010 Confederations Cup and, of course, the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Still riding the crest of the 2010 wave, South Africa now hopes to become a first-choice destination for sports events - hosting Sports & Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) as an important first step in ensuring it continue its hosting successes.
“The influential speakers who have been presenting at the 2011 SETE have applauded the country for its 2010 FIFA World Cup triumph,” said Carol Weaving, managing director of Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group.
“However, they have emphasised that South Africa can’t now simply sit on the sidelines waiting for future events to present themselves.
“It is time for South Africa to fully leverage the successful hosting of the World Cup that saw our destination gaining status in the world’s mind as a mega event destination.
One such expert speaker, Michael Linley, believes that although the FIFA World Cup was “a job well-done”, which positively changed perceptions, there are considerable efforts that need to follow beyond the event.
Linley, who is the managing director of Australian-based advisory firm BrandCapital International, said: “It is essential that South Africa now dedicate significant time and effort to building on its existing profile.
“South Africa cannot afford the luxury of just sitting back and basking in the glory of FIFA 2010.
“As successful as the World Cup was in showcasing capability and allaying any concerns about South Africa, it is not enough to believe South Africa has arrived.
“The World Cup has created a window of opportunity for this country to establish itself as an iconic destination – but the work lies ahead not behind,” added Linley.
With his experience in branding and research of large-scale events, Linley uses the case of Sydney, Australia as an example of failing to drive further efforts to ensure the sustainability of tourism.
“As a beautiful city with iconic landmarks and already a desirable tourist destination, Sydney enjoyed its reputation for hosting ‘the best Olympics ever’ in 2000.
“Unfortunately, the effort and resources that went into hosting those Games were not carried into a calendar of future events.
“Within two years of Sydney’s Games, rival Melbourne had reclaimed the mantle of ‘best event destination’ in Australia - and it last held the Olympic Games in 1956.”
Sports Tourism in South Africa
One of the ways to further enhance South Africa’s sports tourism reputation, Linley believes, is in relationship building.
Despite the recent advances in technology which have changed how business is done, the opportunity to meet and build relationships face-to-face is irreplaceable.
“Events such as the 2011 SETE can be the ideal vehicle to promote a destination.
“My experience is that it is often the offline connections that can do the most to catalyse action. Thus, bringing key decision makers and experts into one place is invaluable to build these kinds of relationships.”
Another high profile SETE speaker, Douglas Turco, agrees.
Turco, a professor of Sport Management at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA, added: “Promoting the country as an ideal host for large-scale events may be one of the objectives of SETE.
“However, I also view SETE as an opportunity for the transfer of knowledge about what it takes to continue to be seen as a first-choice host for future events, so that other event managers and destination marketers can benefit.”
In his presentation, Turco will discuss how sport provides participants, spectators and media audiences with the opportunity to experience a host destination in ways other tourism activities do not.
With his topic specifically focusing on the ways that cities and regions have been branded by sport, Turco believes the FIFA World Cup has solidified certain provinces within South Africa as premier destinations.
“Perhaps Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban do not need additional branding as they are already well-known, but other South African host cities have definitely raised their profiles as tourist destinations, thanks to the FIFA World Cup,” he explained.
He believes South Africa has already elevated its stature as a world-class sports tourism destination by virtue of its recent string of successes.
“South Africa’s diverse sports resume includes locations and events for cycling, rally cars, marathons, golf, rugby, cricket and football. This is impressive and should continue to be highlighted by government and the media,” added Turco.
Looking ahead, Turco suggests the country should also concentrate on adventure-sports tourism experiences for active adults and families, such as cycling tours, kayaking-canoeing and sailing, rather than only competing for the few large-scale sports events that are held every four years.
“For example, if further developed, nautical sports in South Africa would have an opportunity to capture an international niche market,” he said.
Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group concluded: “The 2011 SETE is certainly paving the way to promote South Africa for future sports events that will continue to attract tourists.
“With such a prominent host of speakers lined up, we are anticipating many interesting and productive discussions that will secure South Africa’s position as a sustainable tourism destination and sports events host.”
World Sports Tourism Conference
As the Sports & Events Tourism Exchange illustrates, sport and tourism are booming.
In recent years the integration of sport, sporting events and spectator and participation travel has seen sport tourism become the industry’s fastest growing sector with an estimated value of $600 billion a year.
To both reflect this staggering growth and contribute further to it, World Sports Tourism Conference has been confirmed for October this year, during the Rugby World Cup.
In partnership with TUI Travel Specialist & Activity Sector, the event presents an unmissable opportunity to join the pre-eminent decision makers, strategists and visionaries from the global Sport and Tourism industries.