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Sports tourism: Finding the leverage with social impact

Author: Gabriel Tabona
Copyrights: Gabriel Tabona

Sports tourism: Finding the leverage with social impact

How can sports tourism be harnessed to achieve development goals?

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation reports an annual 1.1 billion tourists globally, a number which is projected to increase to 1.4 billion by 2020. Along with an export value of millions, and creating an estimated one in eleven jobs, tourism is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. An increasing portion of these travellers are direct, indirect or "hybrid" sports tourists in the form of domestic or foreign athletes, officials, volunteers, and spectators.

To demonstrate the ability of sport tourism to boost regional and cross-continental integration, here are some examples:

  • Once per year, English Premier League team Everton plays a match against the Sportpesa Super Cup winners from East Africa
  • 2019 will see a select team of promising Kenyan youth football players visit Spain for a training camp courtesy of the Chapa Dimba tournament, and a partnership between Safaricom, La liga, and Football Kenya Federation
  • The Kenya Tourism Board’s Magical Kenya sponsors the Kenyan rugby sevens team to promote Kenya as a tourist destination in the International Rugby Board rugby sevens series

For transnational organised crime to be eradicated, airline-sponsored sports teams including Manchester City, Barcelona and Arsenal can use the visibility of Etihad, Qatar airways, and Fly Emirates to raise awareness among travelling fans about the dangers of human trafficking in sport. Hence fans will see the importance of planning for simple things such as accommodation to avoid what happened to stranded fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. This is a reason why hospitality firm Kingdom Sports group is joining forces with the National Olympic Committee of Kenya to offer comprehensive packages to fans who wish to go the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympics games.

Universal healthcare initiatives also boost domestic sports tourism. Events such as the First Lady Half-Marathon, which helped to alleviate maternal deaths, and the Stanchart Marathon and Mater Heart Run, which tackle blindness and heart conditions respectively, are evidence of this.

Collective responsibility is vital if environmental conservation efforts are to be achieved. There are numerous examples of using sport and tourism to raise awareness for and promote environmental and wildlife protection:

  • The Iten high altitude camp can be a perfect reason people should visit Uasin Gishu County in Kenya
  • The Eldoret City Marathon in Western Kenya calls for climate action
  • Teeing off along the equator line can be a memorable experience at Mount Kenya golf course. Located on the slopes of Africa’s second tallest snow capped mountain, enthusiast golfers can witness the impact of global warming
  • Proceeds of the Lewa Marathon are used to alleviate human-wildlife conflict through social interventions ranging from education to healthcare

As sport tourism continues to gain momentum across the world, it opens up innovation avenues which can help improve the quality of life in different communities.


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Monday, April 22, 2019 - 17:45