Tourism is a major sector and a massive contributor to the World’s economy. According to Forbes, the travel and tourism sector contributed $8.9 trillion to the World’s GDP in 2019.
In another report from Havard Edu, the tourism industry is responsible for 10.4% of the world’s GDP and 7% of the world’s total exports.
While European cities and some countries in Asia and North America are the main beneficiaries, tourism has also contributed massively to Africa’s economy. According to a report from Investment Monitor, the tourism industry was responsible for 7% of Africa’s GDP in 2019, contributing about $169 billion to the continent’s economy, which is about the size of Ethiopia and Ghana’s GDP combined.
In the same year, the tourism industry contributed 9.1% to Europe’s economy and 12.1% to South East Asia’s economy, which shows that Africa is not that far behind in terms of generating revenue.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the World’s economy in 2020, Tourism also took a hit. But the good news is that the worst is over, and major world economy sectors are aiming to bounce back, including tourism.
One of the segments of the tourism sector that could drive the growth of the industry is sports tourism.
According to research from Global Newswire, Sports tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism sector.
As of 2018, the market size of sports tourism was valued at $1.5 billion, but it is projected to reach $ 7 billion in 2023 (CBI). According to a report from the World Sports Tourism show, sports tourism accounts for 12 to 15 million international arrivals yearly and represents about 10% of the tourism industry.
The same report also stated that the United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Germany and Finland have the most sports tourists every year.
With figures showing that sports tourism is growing at a rapid rate, it is paramount for top vacation destinations to make sports tourism a priority, which they can do by seeking the help of core professionals in the field. Sports tourism is seen as a way to capitalise on the growth and interest in competitive and non-competitive sports by aligning forces with the sport, recreation, organisations and tourism professionals.
This shows that any destination aiming to capitalise on the growth of sports tourism needs to have a relationship with the professionals in the tourism sector.
- The professionals understand the supply side of sports tourism, which is attractions, resorts, cruises, tours and events.
- A professional understands the relationship between both sports and tourism.
- They have an idea of what sports tourists want, as sports tourism is not just about travelling to watch a sporting event. It could also be travelling to participate in group sports or individual sports.
- The professional understands the nuances of sports tourism and the cost implication for both the destination and the tourist.
Africa is not left out of this conversation. One of the reasons European cities are the origin of sports tourism is that they have sporting institutions that appeal to tourists and can host many international events. They know the benefits associated with each sports tourism category and can also carry out feasibility studies on opportunities that can benefit these destinations.
While Africa does not have this luxury, it can seek the help of professionals in the sector to develop ideas on how African countries can be ideal destinations for sports tourists. Professionals can help create a strategic plan for tourist destinations in Africa to accommodate sports tourists, benefitting all parties involved. They can leverage the expertise of professionals by organising events such as marathons, mountain climbing, and cycling.
Events like the Lagos City Access Bank Marathon attracts tourist from different parts of the world. At the same time, South Africa also organises a couple of cycling events that bring in people from all over the world.
Sports Tourism is a growing trend that will continue to expand in the coming years. It is time for the world’s top destinations to tap into the growth by building a relationship with professionals in the sector.