We’ve heard a lot this week about how people worldwide are changing how and where they travel. It seems a fitting end to the series, then, to discuss what the future may hold for global tourism. One of the ways to do this is to examine sports tourism, one of the hottest new trends in the global tourism industry.

Recently, on July 5th, the International Sports Tourism Conference was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. One of the key interactions at the event was between representatives from Brazil and South Africa. The representatives from Brazil were picking the brains of the South Africans to see how they can better prepare to host a successful World Cup in 2014 and Summer Olympics in 2016. Why? The impact a global sporting event has on a country’s economy and global perception is huge! 

The recent World Cup, held in South Africa, is a prime example of the impact that a global sporting event, and sporting events in general can have on a country’s economy. South Africa’s tourism climate has become radically transformed as a result of the Cup. The funds spent upgrading stadiums, airports, and transport infrastructure provided thousands of jobs, prepared South Africa to handle the duties of hosting the World Cup, and also gave its global reputation a boost. The new-and-improved South African tourism climate is expected to see nearly 2.2 million extra tourists, 1.5 million of which will be from overseas, not to mention a high potential for investment. The World Cup is estimated to have a roughly $6.4 billion economic impact, and as the exposure of sports continues to rise, so too will the number of people watching and attending these events, making the economic impact even larger. 

Not too long ago, there was a major push by Tokyo, Madrid, Chicago, and Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Countries are realizing the widespread effects sports tourism can have on their economy, and global perception of them as a whole. Millions of people worldwide are entranced by the ancient rivalries that are revisited in international athletic competitions. These events also give people a chance to show off their national pride. Thus, events like the World Cup and Olympics become a major personal investment and a sizable cash cow for sponsors and host cities. If a country has the infrastructure and know-how to accommodate hundreds of thousands of international tourists at once, it certainly will gain considerations when companies and organizations are contemplating where to hold conferences and conventions, as well as future sporting events.

Football has always been the global favorite, but as more and more people around the globe gain viewing access to different sports, expect to see more and more games of basketball, American football, and baseball being played overseas. As the demand for sports rises, so will the demand for venues in which they can be accommodated.

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