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Sports tourism
Sports & Events Tourism Exchange
Industry players often don’t take into consideration all the aspects of sport tourism and therefore don’t understand just how large the sector is.

This is according to Gillian Saunders, Head of Advisory Services for Grant Thornton, who adds that the industry is worth between $182 billion (R1,973 trillion) and $600 billion (R6,506 trillion).

Speaking at this year’s Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) Conference on Wednesday, Saunders said that although mega events such as the Commonwealth Games attract a large number of spectators, the numerous other aspects of sport tourism should not be neglected. She explained sport tourism encompasses any travel to participate in sports, to spectate, to work in sport, assist or support sport as well as to visit sport attractions. 

Furthermore, Saunders said sport participation as a travel motivation is increasing. She pointed to a new sector in the industry, sport visitor attraction, also seen as sport pilgrimage, which is expected to grow considerably in the next few years. 

Saunders said sport has been an important component of the tourism industry for Durban and will continue to be important to position the region. Durban and KwaZulu-Natal are planning to bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as for the 2024 Olympics. 

However, bidding for two major events in the space of two years could prove to be too much, Saunders warned. She explained that KZN and Durban would have to focus on effective management of sport tourism by setting clear objectives and develop an integrated management with all the main stakeholders, including tourism authorities, sports bodies, airlines, hotels, DMCs and municipalities. 

Graham Brown, Professor of Tourism Management at the University of South Australia, said that events had become increasingly important in people’s lives, which is why event calendars have become a popular way for cities to attract people. He also warned however that the most important component of a good event would be the atmosphere created at the destination. Therefore, it is important for the host community to support the event 100%.

Source: Tourism Update