Middle East sports tourism

Sport Business News

The Middle East has been a major hot spot for growth in tourism of almost all varieties in recent years as the region looks beyond oil to diversify its economy.

Differences in levels of oil reserves have influenced the urgency with which individual states have moved to diversify. The UAE has been more pro–active than Saudi Arabia and, within the Emirates, Dubai–which has comparatively little oil of its own–the standout emerging destination, having trebled annual international visitor numbers from 1. 9m in 1996 to 7m in 2007, and set a target of 15m a year by 2015. Dubai's development from a standing start means that all tourism sectors have been kick–started at once, meaning sports tourism is both still in its infancy and overshadowed by bigger and glitzier headline–grabbing projects in other sectors. Andrea Sartori head of KPMG's Golf Advisory Practice said: "Dubai is still an emerging golf destination and is a relatively small one. At the moment it only has eight or nine courses in operation so it has done very well in positioning itself to be perceived as a golfing destination while still at that level. "Dubai has realised that golf is an addition to the overall destination product–which is rich in other attractions like shopping, desert tourism, sand and sea–and not the overall destination product itself. They have added in golf and exploited the synergies with other attractions that already exist. "More golf courses are currently in development: Leisurecorp, creator of the Jumeirah Golf Estates destination, is targeting 25, 000 rounds a year when its four courses are complete–but many of these are real estate–focused rather than pure tourism projects. In participation terms, the bulk of future revenues are likely to continue to derive from 'incidental' tourists or multi–focus holidays. The completion of Dubai Sports City (DSC) will add another layer of spectator tourism with its 60, 000–seat stadium, 25, 000–capacity cricket stadium, 10, 000–seat indoor arena and 5, 000–seat field hockey stadium, while participation will gain a further non–golfing boost from a range of academies and, in the professional sector, the UAE's growing reputation as a warm–weather training base. Tourism has been targeted as a potential growth market as a consequence of the Middle East's accessibility to the established major source market of Europe and the emerging one of Asia. Europe has been first mover, partly through its more developed source market status and partly through a familiarity with the region bred by historic connections with it, for the UK market in particular. With cricket emerging as potentially the main spectator sport for Dubai's hosting programmes–the International Cricket Council has already moved its headquarters to DSC–there may emerge a geographical split along sports tourism lines, with Asian visitors (dominated heavily by the Indian subcontinent) coming for spectator cricket events and European tourists travelling to participate in golf. A turbulent global economy and a large debt burden has put a temporary brake on Dubai's growth with hotel rates falling in the Emirate. Other UAE states, less dependent on the international financial markets have seized the opportunity to gain back some share of the international tourist trade. Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Oman have all launched campaigns using sport or adventure activities to attract clientele. Recent months have seen the emergence of Qatar onto the international sport stage and tourism is driving much of its ambition. Unveiling the stadia that will make up its audacious bid to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup it was immediately clear that integration into regional tourism and infrastructure are key. Moreover, the message was clear that this ambition is likely to be realised whether or not Qatar stages football's crown jewel event. Tourism is not the only beneficiary of Qatar's major event schedule as it seeks to position itself as equivalent to Switzerland in the Middle East. But, better road, rail and air links into surrounding countries will make the tourism proposition offered by Doha more attractive. There is no shortage of grand ambition either as the road causeway connecting the country with Bahrain (referred to as the friendship bridge) will be the world's longest at over 40km. This article is an extract from the new SportBusiness Report 'Sports Tourism: Strategies for Successful Development'. The very terms sports tourism and sports events cover such a broad spectrum of activities that clarity of thinking and usable data has been hard to obtain. SportBusiness has now published a report that fills this important gap. Cut and paste the link below into your browser to request a FREE summary of this essential report:http://files. sportbusiness. com/mkt/sbg/email/10emlE/Sports_Tourism_Land. html? utm_source=sbirpt&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10E14401This report identifies the different groups that make up the sector, what each is worth and how best to attract them. It provides analysis of different sports spectator and participant profiles, and examines differences between source markets, national versus international and short versus long–haul visitors. With more than 10 information filled chapters 'Sports Tourism: Strategies for Successful Development' will give you essential information and strategy development models including:•Creating a sports tourism offer •Sports tourism destination marketing •Valuing sports events and the visitors they bring •Identifying which visitors and events to target •Ensuring sports tourism complements existing attractions •The role and value of infrastructure investment •Sustainable sports tourism Sports Tourism: Strategies for Successful Development is your guide to the sector demonstrating just how sport can play a part in your development plans.

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