The Relationship Between Sport and Tourism

The relationship between sport and tourism In order to understand the meaning of sport tourism, firstly we need to understand the term sport and tourism. Generally, sport can be defined as “all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competitions at all levels” (Council Of Europe, 1992). Having said that, sport is actually a form of activity that is participated by people and it involves not only the participant but also other people.

As for tourism, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) (2000) defined it as “activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”. In this case, both sport and tourism is seen as a form of travel from one place to another. For instance, most sport nowadays involves a considerable amount of traveling to play and compete in different destinations and countries.

Other than that, there are also people that travels for the purpose of visiting sports attraction such as stadiums, sports museum and also sports hall. Nowadays, sport and tourism can be seen as an inseparable phenomenon and sport tourism itself is considered to be the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry. However, the definition of sport tourism varies among people, until now, there still has not been a standardize definition for it. Over the years, there have been attempts to define it; for instance (Weed et al, 1997).

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As such, Standeven and De Knop (1999, p. 2) defines sport tourism as, “All forms of active and passive involvement in sporting activity, participated in casually or in an organized way for non-commercial or business/commercial reasons, that necessitate travel away from home and work locality”. Therefore, it is known that sport and tourism relates to one another, as also stated by Hinch and Higham (2001) that “sport tourism is a sport-based travel away from the home environment for a limited time, where sport is characterised by unique rule sets, competition related to physical prowess and play”.

Furthermore, they also added that sport is considered to be “a significant travel activity, whether it is a primary or secondary feature of the trip”. According to Keller (2001), “the relationship between sport and tourism can be traced back to the ancient Olympic Games”. This is when all the people in the earlier days travelled to the olympic site just to attend the hallmark event. However, according to Delpy (1998), “high numbers of travellers searching for active and passive involvement in sports are of more recent origin”.

The factors resulting to this trend is because there is an expanding demographic profile of participants in sports (Glyptis, 1989), increased demand for active engagement in recreational pursuits while on holiday (Priestley, 1995), and a growing interest in the prominent roles played by sports and sports event in urban renewal and urban imagery, and potential to leverage tourism opportunities associated with sports events (Getz, 1998). Other than that, sport tourism can be categorized into three types of tourism. According to Gibson (2003, pp. 07), “there is the active sport tourism where participants travel to take part in sport, event sport tourism where participants travel to watch the sport, and also nostalgia sport tourism where participants visit sports related attractions such as halls of fame, famous-stadia or sports-themed cruises”. Furthermore, active sport tourism consists of the active sport tourists, an individual who takes part in sport while on holiday. Generally, the sport that is usually related to this type of sport tourists are golf, skiing, swimming, tennis, and sailing.

Moreover, the active sport tourist can be breakdown into three more categories; De Knop (1990) states that, “they are the pure sport holiday, where the primary purpose is to take part in sports such as skiing or golf; the vacation, in which sport is not the primary purpose but individuals make use of the sports facilities in their vacation locale; and the private sporting holiday, where people take part in informal “pick-up” games such as beach volleyball”. This is important because it means that the sport tourists differ from one another.

This also suggests that they require different type of motivations for their choice of sports to participate in. The types of facilities offered, the course’s degree of challenge and also the pricing is considered to be the motivation for most sport tourists. As such, most resorts, clubs, and other hospitality industry try to offer the best facilities in order to attract this type of tourists. Other than that, a research on a cross-country ski and walking event in Japan identified that the reason of being healthy,fit and also “for the love of sport” are also considered motivational factors (Nogowa, Yamguchi, and Hagi, 1996).

As have been said before, event sport tourism consists of participant that travels to watch the sport event. According to Delpy (1997), the experience of “being there” is considered to be the motivation for most event sport tourists. For instance, the experience of attending the Olympic Games differs from the experience of by just watching the games on television. The main point to be discussed here is that the event sport tourists is responsible in benefitting the host community. This is because most of this event sport tourists are not only from the local community, but comes from all around the world.

For instance, when the 2006 Fifa World Cup was hosted, it consisted of 32 national teams representing their country. Thus, there were 31 different countries in Germany at that time and each of the country represents a group of event sport tourists in support of their national team. Having said that, Germany as the hosting country benefited from the Fifa World Cup because a large amount of money were spent by those event sport tourists while there were in Germany. It means that there were increased in economic perspectives when Germany hosted the Fifa World Cup.

As for nostalgia sport tourism, it consists of nostalgia sport tourists visiting stadiums, halls of fame, and sports museum. The main purpose of their visit is to experience the place by themselves; such as the stadiums. For instance, taking the Old Trafford Stadium as an example; this type of tourist is a hardcore supporter of the Manchester United team, and only have watched the team playing through the television, thus the “feeling” of being there have developed. Therefore, it has been decided that this tourist has to visit the Old Trafford Stadium in order to get the maximum satisfaction.

As we know it, sport and tourism relates to one another because it works both ways. For instance, if an individual wants to go skiing and there are no skiing facilities around, that individual has to travel to a destination which provides the facilities. Apart from that, when the sport tourists travel to another country, at the same time it boosts the country’s tourism sector. Thus, the country’s economy also increases. This is because when the sport tourists travel, they will not only use the sport facilities, but also uses the other facilities such as the accommodation, public transport, local restaurants and so on.

Nowadays, most countries see sport and tourism as a way to develop and to improve the country. For example, the hosting of a mega-event such as the Olympic Games or World Cup. For years, “competition to host mega-events, such as the Olympic Games, has been intense and huge amounts of money are spent bidding for these events” (Jennings, 1996). It is known that by hosting this type of events, the hosting country will have impacts from it, through economically and also socially. Thus, cities all over the world are working hard to win the bidding process.

However, even before the results of which city will be hosting the mega-event is decided, the process of bidding has already impacted the cities that is taking part in the bidding process. By taking the Olympic Games as an example, the cities that are running for the bidding process have to prove to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they are capable of hosting such events. This is done by making sure that they are able to provide the facilities such as the stadiums, accommodation and public transport that is needed.

Therefore, in order to provide this kind of facilities, the cities have to redevelop themselves and this usually involves high costs. The costs of building and upgrading existing infrastructures often becomes a major concern for the local communities. This is because the taxpayer’s money is being used and often the infrastructures that is build for the purpose of hosting the mega-event are not fully utilized after the event. Furthermore, it is known that the mega-event will generate revenue and contribute major benefits to the hosting cities,region and countries.

This is because the mega-event will attract a substantial domestic and also international tourists. Other than that, this is also an opportunity for the host’s country to promote their culture and image as a country. Other impacts of hosting such event are the host community will have an increased in tourism sector, increased tourist knowledge of the country, and the urbanisation of cities. However, there are also the negative impacts of hosting such event, for instance investment in non-needed structure, temporary crowding in cities, increase in crime and also increased in property rental.

Thus, it is very important for the host community to properly manage and plan the mega-event as have been argued by Roche (1994) that, “mega-events tend to be short lived but have long-term consequences for a community that may not always be positive”. There have been a lot of research on the link of sport and tourism, however, it has always been focusing on one dimensions of sports tourism; for instance “holidays involving sport either as participant or as spectator” (Weed and Bull, 2004). To begin with, it has been identified that there are wo types of sport-related tourism, such as a destination that is using sport to develop their tourism identity and also where the tourism of a destination is develop unintentionally because of the sport activities. This has further been concluded by Gammon and Robinson (2003) that “sport and tourism is not just about the management and operation of mega-events, it also concerns offering consumer-specific sports and tourism-related services and experiences”. One of the sport that is related to this kind of phenomenon is golf.

For most of the golf enthusiast, the sport; golf is considered to be a form of sport-related tourism. This is because the participants tend to travel to other parts of the world just to experience the different types of courses. As stated by Hall (1992), “golf tourism is considered a major tourism activity both as a direct form of special interest travel and as an adjunct to other forms of travel”. Research on golf tourism has estimated that “there are over 60 million golfers across the world” (Readman,2003).

As such, it can be concluded that golf as a form of sport-related tourism represents the largest sport-related tourism sector. For over decades, golf has been considered as a sport that is played and enjoyed by most people as a past time activity and golf does not have a specific age group of participant. Therefore, it is not surprising that the popularity of golf has grown so fast and the influx of tourists to international golfing destinations has also grown substantially.

Furthermore, this type of sport tourist; known as golf tourist can be categorised into three generic types, consisting of the avid golfer; this type of golf tourist is known to travel with golf as the primary focus of the trip and usually prefers world-class golf courses and facilities. Secondly, there is the business traveller golfer; they known to be the business people which put golf as a secondary option, usually playing golf when the resort provides such facilities. Lastly, there is the family golfer or according to Golf 20/20 (2004); known as “occasional golfer”.

This type of golf tourist is known to consider golfing as an activity while travelling but is not likely to choose the travel destination based on the golf courses that is provided. This type of golf tourist also prefers travel destination which provides “family-oriented activities” (Tassiopoulos & Haydam, 2007). However, according to Weed and Bull (2004), golf tourists are categorised by their “behaviours and motivation and identified as experienced and learner participant”. Moreover, the involvement of the golf tourist are often associated by the type of golf courses provided; the degree of challenge, the uniqueness of the course.

All of this are taken into consideration when golf tourists are to planned their travel golfing destination. For some golf tourists, such as those from United States, United Kingdom and Europe; they tend to travel to other places such as the Caribbean due to seasonal factors. This is because places such as the Carribbean has good weather all-year round unlike those in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. Thus, the Carribbean are taking this as an advantage to promote their tourism in terms of sport-related.

Other than that, as for the golf tourists from Korea; the motivation for them to travel is because “Korea does not have the sufficient golf courses to meet the demand of golf tourists” (Golf Course News, 2003). Furthermore, other motivation for the golf tourists is that it is relatively more cheaper to play golf at other golf destinations compared to in Korea. Despite all of it, there are concerns about the lack of integrated practice and policy among sport and tourism agencies (Gibson, 2001). This is because most sport and tourism agencies lack the coordination in developing policy for sport tourism.

Both agencies treat sport and tourism as a separate activity; while both are relatively connected to each other. As stated by De Knop (1990), “the lack of an integrated sport tourism policy is common throughout the world”. He further stated that without an adequate policy, conflicts of interest among various departments, agencies, ministries, bureau will become more common. Other than that, there are also growing concerns about the effects of sport tourism to the environment. This is because most sport-related tourism requires an area in which needed to be developed before it can be utilized.

There is also the concern of maintaining the sport destination. For example, in order to build a golf course, firstly you need have a huge amount of undeveloped land. Therefore, the impact of building a golf course on the environment are the destruction of natural habitat and also deforestation. Apart from that, the sport; ski also contributes in effecting the environment. This is because it is effecting the natural wildlife in the Alps. Therefore, this kind of environmental impacts of sport-related tourism shows that there is a need at a certain level to coordinate and to develop an integrated policy before it is too late.

In conclusion, over the past years, there have been alot of research on the relationship of sport and tourism, especially in trying to give sport tourism the proper definition. Whether it is called sport tourism, sports tourism, sport and tourism; all of this are actually just a terminology that have been adapted throughout the years by academic scholars. Therefore, it is important for those scholars to actually conceptualize a thorough definition of the term sport tourism; not as two different sector but as one. Thus, further analysis on sport tourism has to be researched by the academic scholars.

In terms of the types of sport tourists that has been identified, it is important to know what actually motivates them in choosing their travel destination in relation of their sport activities. This is because in order for the tourism sector to fully utilize the facilities that they provide, they have to take the sport tourists set of thinking into consideration. As have been said before, the relationship of sport and tourism are interrelated to each other, because without the sport tourists, the tourism industry will not be able to benefit from it.

The development of a country also depends on this sport tourists; thus it is important for the local government to coordinate with the tourism agency in order to gain the economical benefits. As have been stated, the sport tourism sector plays an important role in developing such a nation. However, it is also important for the country to properly plan and manage their tourism sector, in this case, when a country is trying to bid for a mega-event, they have to take everything into consideration, even the smallest things. This is so that a positive outcome will be achieved rather than a negative outcome.

However, one thing that needs to be taken seriously when trying to develop the tourism industry is the environment. Due to the lack of policy coordination, the environment has to suffer and this has to be taken seriously by the local government agencies. To finish off, there are more sections on sport tourism that needs further research on; future studies should include an in-depth look on the needs, motivational perspectives, and the behaviours of sport tourists. This is so that sport tourism will continue to grow and hopefully it will be a more supportive sector in developing a country.

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The Relationship Between Sport and Tourism. (2017, Mar 24). Retrieved from

The Relationship Between Sport and Tourism
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