Sport tourism and sports travel for avid fans is hitting a second wave. When I started my business, TSE Sports & Entertainment, in 1997 in my apartment in New York City the idea of traveling to a major sporting event like the World Cup or Olympics was reserved for only a few in the know. Remember at the time there really wasn’t a major internet presence and the transparency of the sports travel marketplace was cloudy at best.
Fast forward to today and my company which was acquired in 2006 by Premiere Global Sports takes over 50,000 individuals, corporate executives, and incentive winners in the course of a year to events around the world. It’s amazing to think that only a dozen years earlier our industry was in its infancy.
Today we are moving into a new realm which has an increasingly sharp international feel to it. Through the internet and social networking groups the business has expanded to find partners across the world, who are working with us to send travelers to events.
The other area we have seen a burst of new activity is in the desire from people to see events outside of their homelands. Many people in the United States thanks to cable television and the internet now follow sports such as Soccer, Cricket, and Rugby. We have many of these people requesting trips to see Premier League matches and the Cricket World Cup.
We also find many travelers are now looking to come inbound to major US sporting events such as the Masters Golf Tournament and the Super Bowl. The world is continually shrinking and many people now have the ability to follow sports, leagues, and teams that they had no media access to five years ago. It’s an incredible sight to see passionate fans across the world that are now able to really enjoy their sport of choice. They are able to follow the best.
With this new territory comes the desire for these people to go and experience these events first hand. There is one thing to watch a game from your couch but it’s an entirely different experience to be there. I have been watching Premier Soccer via Fox sports here in New York but I rather go see Manchester United play Liverpool at the Old Trafford. I would love to go see the Epsom Derby or even the Australian Open. There are so many major international events on my list to go check out. Now thanks to the expansion of the sports travel industry all of these events are possible.
In fact it led me to write a book titled the 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live. The book is a Frommers like travel guide that gives people information on how to buy tickets, find hotels, and experience all the opportunities surrounding these great events. It’s really a bucket list for the sports lover.
On the list you will find the big names such as the Olympics, World Cup, Wimbledon, and Monaco Grand Prix but you will also find smaller less known events such as the Little 500, the Penn Relays, and the relatively newly formed London Marathon. So many people nowadays are looking for experiences, not just vacations. There is no better way to do it then going to see something you are passionate about.
The Business of Sport Tourism
Sport tourism has become one of the hottest businesses in sports. It is already one of the fastest growing sectors of the global travel and tourism industry with estimates of its value in 2003 alone as high as $51bn, equivalent 10 percent of the total international tourism market. Sport tourism encompasses both fans travelling to watch sport and people pursuing their sport abroad. The economies of cities, regions and even countries around the world are increasingly reliant on the visiting golfer and skier or the travelling football, rugby or cricket supporter.
History of Sport Tourism
The term "sport tourism" was first mentioned in the late 1960s or early 1070s to describe the special form of tourism which was combined with sport activities. Sport tourism is perceived to be a modern area of endeavor for academics as well as professionals and managed to attract significant numbers of people. As a consequence it is characterized by important growth ratio.
Some authors define sport tourism as all forms of active or passive involvement in sport activities be it for professional purposes or for the sake of amateurism. Prerequisite is, however, travelling away of the place of permanent living.
By Robert Tuchman
Robert Tuchman is the president of Premiere Corporate, a division of Premiere Global Sports. Read his monthly column in Incentive Magazine.