Successful sport tourism II

Sport Business News

MEI presents the second part of a two–part feature on sports tourism written by SportBusiness' David Walmsley and Phil Savage.

Professor Dr Holger Preuss, professor of sports economics and sports management at Johannes Gutenberg–University in Mainz, Germany, has identified different types of 'event affected persons' whose tourism and travel behaviours are significant determinants of economic impact around major multi–sport events. These comprise event visitors who would not be there if the event was not happening, extensioners who have extended a planned trip to take in the event, time switchers who alter their plans to be in town during the event, casuals who would have visited regardless and residents who chose to stay at home and take advantage of the event. Set against these are the avoiders who either abandon or postpone plans to visit due to the event and resident runaways who take additional holiday or change their usual holiday plans to head out of town and avoid the event. The behaviour of these groups can influence economic impact before and after the event as well as during it, but do have distinct positive and negative effects. Paul Bush, chief executive of EventScotland, said of his organisation's path through the minefield: "Our raison d'etre is to bring people in from outside the country, so we only measure people who come from outside Scotland and we take displacement fully into account. And although we invest in things like The Open and the Edinburgh Festival, we don't count them because they are existing events; we only measure those where without the direct involvement of EventScotland they would not have come to Scotland. "Geography is also a consideration for all types of strategy, both in terms of how far beyond the core destination the ripples of economic impact can expect to be felt and the way in which the same event can have a different impact in two different locations. Typically, the economic impact of spectator sports tourism is largely limited to the immediate event locale, even in the indirect effects of place branding that can build a region or nation's reputation as a sports tourism destination. A study of Alpine destination management conducted by the University of Milan's Business Management Department in 2008 examined the impact of Turin's hosting of the 2006 Winter Olympics on inbound visitor flows to the city and the surrounding Piedmont region. It found that whilst both Turin and the designated 'Olympic Valleys' saw increases in tourist numbers of 25% and 16% respectively between 2002 and 2005, visits to the other nine nearby Alpine tourism destinations surveyed remained flat. Bad news, though, travels further, with the negative economic impacts of event hosting being felt much farther afield. Dr John Beech, head of sport and tourism applied research at Coventry University's Centre for International Business of Sport, cites the experience of the 2000 Sydney Olympics as evidence of the case in point. He says: "Most of the research suggests economic impact does not stretch much further than the host city; maybe to the region around it but not beyond that. The Sydney Olympics are a classic example in that they did Western Australia a great deal of harm by putting non–Olympic tourists off going to the country altogether. In Sydney, the people who didn't go were compensated for by the sports tourists, but that didn't happen anywhere else. "This lesson was also identified by Travel Utah in its state–wide strategy to maximise the impact of Salt Lake City's hosting of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. It noted that economic returns are uneven and that areas outside the core Games region need to identify ways of associating themselves with the host to maximise their chances of gaining tourism growth. This theme has been picked up again ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Games by the neighbouring US state of Oregon. The state has identified direct impact opportunities in hosting training camps and indirect ones in developing Games travel packages that include a visit extension that takes in time in the state, and generating lifestyle press coverage through non–accredited media reporting the Games. Measuring the impact of hosting a major sports event purely in terms of the effect on tourism in one season is inadequate as many of the results will only become apparent over an extended time frame. There is now a broad school of thought convinced that the costs of staging almost invariably exceed the direct and indirect economic benefits. For example, while Glasgow expects the 2014 Commonwealth Games to pump £107m into the Scottish economy, the event is also projected to cost £288m to stage. The onus is therefore on events to create more indirect benefits either by contributing to a wider programme of regeneration or kick–starting the local economy into a cycle of dynamic growth. The difficulty, however, is that whilst economic impact assessment may be a science, with regard to many sports events it remains an imprecise one. In 2007, Mastercard and KRC Research asked senior decision–makers involved in hosting the UEFA Champions League finals of 2001 through to 2006 to assess the economic impact of the event: the lowest estimate was €7m and the highest €100m. Even among those who measure impact professionally there can be significant disparities in results, depending on what is included in the assessment. Whilst the Deloitte & Touche study of the 2006 Ryder Cup identified benefits of €143m to the Irish economy, another by Anderson Economic Group and Amárach Consulting considered the gains that could not be attributed to wider tourism promotion to add up to €100m less. Perhaps one way of reconciling these differences can be found elsewhere within the business of sport. Sponsors of sports events are very familiar with assessing both immediate and long term benefits and have developed the vocabulary of brand equity to talk about value which accrues over long periods. Companies selling financial services or cars or trying to build customer preference for a particular airline recognise that purchasing decisions happen often over months or even years. The job of their sponsorships is to contribute to a potential customer's understanding of the brand which translates into a positive consideration of its products when a purchase is being made. A city's equivalent of brand equity can be seen in its appeal over the long term to international visitors. As we have seen, regular tourism during a major sports event can actually decrease making the event difficult to justify in visitor numbers alone. However coverage of the events can help to reduce cultural distance making it much more likely that tourists will come in the future. Television coverage of a city's landmarks and spectacular events contribute to the picture a potential visitor has in their mind of the destination. Looked at in this way, carefully selected sports events can be part of a sustainable tourism strategy. In deciding which events to bid for, tourism strategists will need to consider which origin markets are likely to be the source of event spectators and future generations of tourists. Targeting events with large numbers of active participants and extensive media coverage in those markets is the most sure–fire way of turning a one–off event into a legacy of future visitors. Then, whether they are coming to future events, making use of sporting facilities or visiting the sites where records have been set, sports tourism will keep on delivering however we define it. The first part of this feature can be accessed by cutting and pasting the following link into your browser:http://www. majoreventsint. com/pub/news. php? mpID=&mscID=702David Walmsley is the author of Sports Tourism: Strategies for Successful Development published in 2009 by SportBusiness. Phil Savage is managing director of SportBusiness Group. Special offer for MEI readersSportBusiness is pleased to offer a £100 discount to any MEI readers if they purchase Sports Tourism: Strategies for Successful Development. To take advantage of this offer, please call +44 (0)20 7954 3476 or e–mail shona. odonnell@sportbusiness. com

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