With the Commonwealth Games set to take place in Birmingham this summer, it's a good time to focus on sports tourism, which, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), is one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism, generating billions of dollars every year. 

A market report by Allied Market Research states that in 2020 the global sports tourism market was valued at $323,420bn and is projected to be worth $1.8 trillion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.1% from 2021 to 2030. 

Europe held the largest share in 2020, accounting for nearly two-fifths of the market, followed by North America.  The Covid pandemic has obviously had a devastating impact but with restrictions starting to lower and the world beginning to open up, a dramatic recovery is expected.

Visit Birmingham Counts Down to the Commonwealth Games

Simpleview client, Visit Birmingham is currently ramping up its activity in preparation for hosting this year’s Commonwealth Games which take place between 28th July and 8th August.

The event provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the West Midlands on a global stage so Simpleview is currently helping the organisation to do just that by delivering a range of enhancements to the destination’s Visit and Meet websites.

The project includes:

  • 12 month SEO package to boost the sites prominence before, during and post-event.
  • Implementation of Audio Eye, empowering website visitors to tailor content consumption based on vision, hearing, motor and cognitive needs.
  • Featured Items redesign to improve the look and feel of the site – allowing for more targeted promotion of the city and the games.
  • Upgrade of the main navigation and header designs including migrating to a hamburger menu and an updated header for accessibility and features.
  • General design upgrade to icons/search results, product layouts, branding, imagery etc.

The games, branded ‘Birmingham 2022’, are set to have a significant positive impact on the city, its people and its local communities, with the ultimate aim of making them the most sustainable commonwealth games by creating a legacy which long outlasts the event itself.  

Visit Lillehammer & The Winter Olympics

Another Simpleview destination, Visit Lillehammer certainly managed to create a lasting legacy from the Winter Olympics of 1994.  The event helped to cement its status as a renowned winter sports destination for skiing, snowboarding, bobsleigh, tobogganing and some of the best cross-country skiing in the world so the site’s content reflects the range of activities on offer.

Beijing 2022 is a great example of the impact that hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games can have on the country as a whole.  The number of winter tourists in China has increased from 170 million in the 2016/2017 season to 254 million in the 2021/2022 season, according to the China Tourism Academy. Their ambitious targets included attracting more than 300 million people across China to snow and ice activities, bringing healthier lifestyles to China’s citizens and many opportunities for local and regional development.  By January 2022 their target figure had been smashed with over 346 million Chinese people engaging in winter sport since 2015, the number of ski resorts increasing from 460 in 2014 to 803 currently, not to mention the lasting legacy left by the infrastructure used to host the games themselves.

The Impact of Technology

Technological developments have had a huge impact on the growth of sports tourism.  Visitors can now do their preparation well in advance, purchasing tickets, planning itineraries and researching accommodation so destinations need to capitalise on the opportunity and make this as easy as possible.   For organisers, social media makes it easier to cost-effectively spread the word around the globe.

Beijing 2022 is said to have made history by using an unprecedented level of digitisation and new technology.  Millions of viewers have been able to experience the culture and excitement without being there, using green screens and augmented reality (AR). A 5G connection is available throughout the venue, smartbeds are in athletes rooms to monitor their breathing and heart rate and catering robots serve visitors in the Olympic Village.

Destinations Exploiting Their Natural Assets

Many of Simpleview’s destinations are blessed with beautiful coastal, countryside and mountainous areas which naturally lend themselves to a whole variety of year-round pursuits and there are plenty of sports tourism opportunities to be exploited.

For example, the beautiful destination of Valdres in Norway has capitalised on its assets to propel itself into the sports tourism spotlight.

Last year the destination tasked Simpleview with the development of a new site.  With a full width display to deliver impact for the destination and ease of access and proximity to facilities and starting points for adventures, key requirements for winter sports, have been addressed by featuring a map on the homepage, emphasising the destination’s central location. 

The largest ski resort in the southern part of Norway, Hovden is another destination which benefits from its year-round sports tourism offer.  The Winter season runs from November to May offering alpine and cross-country skiing, dog sledding and skating.  In the Summer visitors can go hiking, swimming and fishing.  

Golf is a major driver of tourism for Northern Ireland which boasts 90 clubs and champions like Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell to prove it.  The Discover Northern Ireland site has a comprehensive section dedicated to golf with details on its courses, events, offers, golf itineraries and an official guide to golf. 

Mega Events - The Bigger Picture

Sports tourism clearly has a wider economic and social impact than just the sporting events themselves, providing opportunities for both residents and visitors to destinations.  Visitors spend their money on accommodation, food and drink and attractions during their stay, promoting the growth of the whole supply chain, which in turn boosts GDP growth.  

The examples above are just a small selection of how our destinations are exploiting their sports tourism offer and the great news is that it isn’t going away any time soon, despite the challenges that it’s faced over the last couple of years.  We look forward to seeing more of our destinations reaping the rewards.

Sports Tourism – UNWTO Definition

The definition of sports tourism from UNWTO encompasses a broad range of sports related activity, with numerous benefits for the destination:

"Tourism and sports are interrelated and complementary. Sports – as a professional, amateur or leisure activity – involves a considerable amount of travelling to play and compete in different destinations and countries. Major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, football and rugby championships have become powerful tourism attractions in themselves – making a very positive contribution to the tourism image of the host destination. Sports tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism. More and more tourists are interested in sport activities during their trips whether sports are the main objective of travel or not. Sport events of various kinds and sizes attract tourists as participants or spectators and destinations try to add local flavours to them to distinguish themselves and provide authentic local experiences. Mega sport events such as Olympics and World Cups can be a catalyst for tourism development if successfully leveraged in terms of destination branding, infrastructure development and other economic and social benefits."

Images courtesy of:  









Comments are disabled for this post.