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Community Development

Ohio State University Extension

Sports Tourism

Sports Tourism

One of the largest and fastest growing segments of the tourism industry, sports tourism and the notion of people traveling to participate and watch sport dates back to the ancient Olympic Games. Sports tourism refers to travel to play sports, watch sports, or to visit a sport attraction including both competitive and non-competitive activities (Delpy, 1998). Although there are many definitions or sports tourism, Weed and Bull (2004) identify five main categories, which are sports participation, tourism with sports content, luxury sports tourism, sports events, and sports training.

Benefits of Sports Tourism

The benefits of identifying, attracting and retaining international, national, regional, state and local sports events include:

  1. stimulate the local economy (direct spending related to the use of sport facilities and services; visitors' and public spending for goods and services; employment opportunities, and tax revenue)
  2. enhance the area’s image
  3. provide outstanding entertainment and in some instances, the opportunity to participate
  4. contribute to the quality of life
How Does a Community or Company Get Involved in Sports Tourism?

Many tourism professionals are involved in bidding on, planning for, and hosting sports tourism activities, including the local sports commission or other destination management groups; facility and event planners; food and lodging providers, corporate sponsors, media, transportation and other support services.

To get an idea on how some communities work together to develop sports tourism , see Sports Tourism, a 72-page report prepared for Kent, Ohio.

Resources for Industry Professionals and Community Leaders

National Association of Sports Commissions - A sports event networking organization. Members include organizations that attract sporting events to their community (i.e. sports commissions and convention and visitors bureaus), event owners and vendors and suppliers to the sports event industry.
Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission - a state agency that oversees capital improvement funds appropriated by the General Assembly and Governor for planning, construction, renovation and expansion projects at Ohio's theaters, museums, arts education facilities, historical sites and publicly-owned professional sports venues.
Sports Destination Management Magazine
Sports Tourism Podcasts:

Sports Commission Panel Discussion
David Gilbert, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission
Recorded at the 2009 Ohio Tourism Conference sponsored by the Ohio Travel Association and the Ohio Tourism Division
Hosting sporting events can draw several visitors to your community. Learn how to evaluate your resources and develop strategies to increase sports tourism. 
Listen to this podcast - Highspeed audio
Resources for Educators and Researchers

Journal of Sport & Tourism

Gibson, H. (1998) Sport tourism: A Critical Analysis of Research, Sport Management Review, 1, (1), 45-76.

Butterworth-Heinemann. Hinch T., and Higham, J. (2001). Sport Tourism: A Framework for Research, International Journal of Tourism Research, (3), 1, 45 – 58.

Hinch and Higham, 2004, Sport Tourism Development, Clevedon: Channelview.

Weed M., and Bull, C. (2004) Sports Tourism: Participants, Policy and Providers, Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.

Standeven, J., and Deknop, P. (1999) Sport Tourism, Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics