Sport Tourism: Benefits, Classification, Types

  • Post last modified:28 August 2021
  • Reading time:34 mins read
  • Post category:Tourism

What is Sport Tourism?

Sports tourism is a very significant element in world tourism and has become a highly competitive niche tourism business. As interest and participation in the sport grows within the leisure industry, the desire of people to travel to compete or to spectate has mushroomed.

Sports Tourist

Within the sport tourism industry, we can identify many people who are sport tourists. We can distinguish them by activity, demographic group, the characteristics of their sport, and by their performance level.

Sport tourists can be either participants or spectators. Different events have different ratios of one to the other The demographics of the sport and event also determine the number of people involved and their spending preferences and patterns:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Income
  4. Culture and Ethnicity
  5. Sports and Tourism


While we often think of adult-oriented sports events, there are a great number of sport participants who are children and youth. Any youth tournament has parents in attendance as they are needed to drive, but they are also there to support their kids.

For the parents of many young athletes, following the team becomes a year-round travel and tourism activity.


Many sports have tournaments for both men and women, and indeed the fastest growing segments of some traditionally male sports, like soccer, hockey, and rugby, are for women. Research also shows that parents more often travel with their teenage girls to tournaments than their teenage boys.


As we move on to look at the relative value of different events to a community, the income levels of participants will be of importance. While no hard data exists, we know that the income levels of golfers are higher than, say, lawn bowlers, while alpine/downhill skiers spend more than cross-country skiers.

Culture and Ethnicity

Sport crosses all cultures. Prince Rupert is the host of an annual First Nations Basketball tournament. A Kabaddi tournament will draw great crowds if marketed to the South Asian communities who understand it.

And one of the largest soccer tournaments in the Lower Mainland is organized by the Filipino community which draws teams from across North America, every second year. The nature of the sport itself will also determine the number and characteristics of its sport tourists.

The largest events tend to be for mass participation individual events such as marathons, triathlons, and cross-country ski lop pets; or for team tournaments with lots of teams such as hockey, soccer, and softball.

Less popular sports, where the contest is individual, have smaller tournaments: fencing, boxing, or wrestling, for example. Performance level influences the number and nature of the sport tourists involved. A high-performance baseball tournament will have fewer teams involved than a minor ball or a recreational softball tournament.

Sports and Tourism

Sports tourism brings together sport and tourism. While these two sectors of our society and economy have different natures, values, and organizational structures, they offer tremendous partnering opportunities.

Benefits of Sports Tourism

A focus on sports tourism and sports events can bring economic value, social benefits, and civic pride to the community. Some of these benefits occur at the time of the event, but most are legacies and will return value to the community over many years.

Economic value can be generated and increased in many ways:

  1. Recognizing the value that existing tournaments bring to the community.

  2. Identifying the community’s sport strengths and expanding the number and size of existing events.

  3. Identifying the events that create the greatest economic value, such as masters sport, and focusing on those events.

  4. Providing more leisure opportunities so that family members are encouraged to come with participants, and everyone is encouraged to ‘stay an extra day’ Valuing volunteers, but working smarter to convert volunteer jobs into paid employment.

  5. Linking with corporations that have an interest in the demographics of the sport event. Social benefits of sport tourism are closely linked with the social benefits of recreation and sport.

These benefits can be leveraged as follows:

  1. Volunteering keeps people connected, and connected people are usually healthier.

  2. A focus on events will encourage participation, especially for young people, but also for adults.

  3. Sport and events offer ways of bringing people together from many different regions, and everyone learns from these experiences Sport tourism is “green” economic development, and offers opportunities to re-invigorate depressed parts of an urban area.

  4. Event revenues can be reinvested in community facilities and programs.

  5. Economic development – Tourism-related revenue is normally the largest portion of the economic impact of an event. This includes accommodation, food and beverage, and other spending.

    Direct event revenues include admission fees, sponsorships, on-site sales and, for the largest events, television rights.

  6. Social and Community Legacies: Including youth development, increased fitness levels and health, community, and cultural celebration. Sport links cultures and countries.

  7. Hosting international sport tournamnts is not only good for tourism but also good for cultural relations, our place in the world, and positive community change. Sporting events can also be designed to be environmentally and socially sustainable.

Classification of Sports Tourism

Let’s discuss the classification of sports tourism:

  1. Mega Events
  2. Games
  3. Championships
  4. Tournaments
  5. Training Camps
  6. Development Courses
  7. Conferences
  8. Sports
  9. Cause Related
  10. Media Events
  11. Spectator Events
  12. Created Sport Events

Mega Events

Very large and high profile games and events, including at the apex, the Olympic and Paralympics Games can yield billions of dollars worth of media coverage, prestige, and economic impact for the host, but require a significant capital investment.


Games are multi-sport events – These can be very large due to the number of sports being hosted at one location at the same time. These can be directed by governments or by separate organizations, e.g., the International Olympic Committee.

Relatively few events are games, although their size makes them attractive targets. Hosting games often requires a wide range of suitable venues, as many sports featured are ‘mandatory’, and given their size, experience hosting major events and breadth of sports events may be advantageous.


These are single-sport properties with rights held by the respective sports organization, where a championship tournament is often the culmination of a season’s sport activity. These are often referred to as ‘the provincials’ or ‘the nationals’.

Many championships are arranged by school and university/college sports associations.


Tournaments are another type of event, usually for a single sport. Whereas a championship is “owned” by a sport governing body, tournaments can be the initiative of any organization choosing to initiate them.

Many are arranged by local sports organizations, but they may also be sponsored by a school, church or temple, or a pub, for example.

They are generally held in the same place at the same time every year and can become a familiar part of the sport’s and a community’s annual calendar. Tournaments may be competitive but are often as much participation and recreation-focused as results-oriented.

Training Camps

Championships, tournaments, and games are often competitive events, but competition follows athlete development and training. National or provincial teams with athletes living in different cities are brought together on regular schedules to train and work together with each other and with coaches.

In addition to such training arranged by technical directors of governing bodies and high-performance teams, training camps may be more individual. Commercial summer hockey camps may offer additional training for youth players, and these can be packaged as part of a vacation for the whole family.

Such camps may take advantage of good facilities during the offseason when their capacity for special events may be greater Most sports have regular training camps at the provincial and national level.

The location of training camps is dependent on services and facilities available, costs, the location of the coach, and the number of athletes in a particular community.

Development Courses

Sport organizations train athletes, coaches and officials of all levels. While many of these courses happen locally, especially for entry-level, courses for higher performance athletes and coaches may involve travel and overnight stays. ‘Out of town’ coaches may travel to a larger centre for such a course, or an instructor may travel to another area to train local coaches.


Sports organizations arrange many meetings and conferences, sometimes in conjunction with major events. Trade shows or exhibitions may be involved with such meetings. In addition to the immediate tourism benefit, these can also be opportunities to introduce decision-makers to facilities and future hosting opportunities in the community.

The selection of a community for a conference is often connected to where the sporting event is taking place or where the sport’s leadership resides.


Very much part of sport tourism, professional sports teams tend to primarily serve a local market with spectator entertainment. They also bring visiting teams to town, but this is balanced by their nights spent on away games.

While visiting team fans may accompany their team’s visit from their home town, these are generally limited in numbers, apart from major events.

Professional sports may have more impact in attracting visitors from smaller markets without a franchise to the larger community, similar to arts and culture events attracting visitors to a major city for concerts or museum exhibitions.

Sports-related events may be very useful tourism opportunities, even though sports competition or sports development are not their prime purposes. The categories following may overlap with the above classification and with each other.

Cause Related

Sports events may be designed primarily to promote a charity or to raise money for a specific cause. but this category is for events where charity is a primary purpose, often accompanied by participant enjoyment and entertainment.

Media Events

A few events are created mainly for broadcast audiences and derive their main income from broadcasting rights. Examples would include boxing events, the X-Games, or ‘Skins’ golf. Although spectators will be present, this category is designed to appeal to TV audiences.

They can also have a positive influence on a destination’s awareness and image as a sports destination, depending on the size of the audience.

For example, awareness of the quality of golf courses, the scenery, or other attractions of an area could be communicated to a wide golf tourism target audience through two days of TV coverage.

Spectator Events

Sports tourism involves tourists watching events as much as it does playing in them. Professional sports are driven by spectator revenue and media broadcasting rights, and the sponsor interest is thus generated, with very few participants.

These events are very similar to major music concerts, and maybe ‘sport-based entertainment’ Such spectator events are only potential tourism activities if they attract visitors who stay overnight or travel from over 80 kilometers.

The tourism potential is for out-of-town visitors to travel to the city from nearby communities to watch a specific spectator event, as they may for a regular professional sports team league game.

Created Sport Events

Many events in this section can fall into a general category of ‘created events’. In addition to events held for other purposes, a sporting event may be created by a community, facility, or corporation primarily for commercial or tourism purposes.

A large venue or facility may find it has a quiet period, or it regularly has unused capacity at one time of the year and might create an invitational sports tournament to fill that capacity or arrange with a promoter to stage a sports event or a hockey club to hold an off-season training camp.

Types of Sports Tourism

Based on the concept and attributes of sports tourism, combined with its practice, the types of sports tourism can be divided into six kinds in the standard of their characteristics:

  1. Sightseeing Sports Tour
  2. Competitive Sports Tour
  3. Holiday Sports Tour
  4. Healthy and Recreational Sports Tour
  5. Extreme and Adventure Sports Tour

Sightseeing Sports Tour

The sightseeing sports tour is a process of experiencing various distinctive sports cultures, in which tourists leave far away from their places of usual residence to enjoy physical exercises, sports buildings, stadiums, sports artistic scenery spots in an audiovisual way.

Here sports cultures refer to the cultures comprising all the activities relative to sports, and it has the widest meaning of sports beauty. There are two brief reasons why the sightseeing sports tour is different from common sightseeing tours.

The first reason is the main purpose of the sightseeing sports tour is to gain the aesthetic experiences associable with sports. A sport sightseeing is a way for tourists to feel sports beauty. Not the mundane pleasure do tourists pursue, but sports aesthetic through this way.

The second reason is the diverse subjects of the sightseeing sports tour.

Competitive Sports Tour

The competitive sports tour is a trip with the main aim of joining in some sports competition. The tourists include athletes, coaches, sports audiences (sports fans), media staff, and other working personnel closely relating to some sports competition.

All the different tourists go along from miles around to the sports fields and stay for a period of time to take part in, watch or interview some certain sports competition.

Holiday Sports Tour

The holiday sports tour is a trip with the purpose of relief, adjustment, decompression, recreation, and distraction, for which tourists spend a particular holiday on activities involving sports.

The holiday sports tour usually couples with specific sports in a tourist destination or traditional sports of peoples, so it has typical favor of folklore. The biggest specialty of the holiday sports tour is that just in one holiday or vacation tourists anticipate sports.

Healthy and Recreational Sports Tour

The healthy and recreational sports tour is mainly for amusement and diversion, bodybuilding, kinetic recuperation, and rehabilitation. During the tour, tourists participate in different kinds of healthful exercise and obtain relaxation, relief, and a good mood.

Keeping fitness, the definite subject of the entertaining activity is the biggest characteristic of the healthy and recreational sports tour.

But this kind of healthful exercise differs from the traditional exercise, because it inclines towards the idea of keeping healthy from amusement, and that’s why tourists choose this type of sports tour.

Extreme and Adventure Sports Tour

The extreme and adventure sports tour is a challenge that human beings rise to their own physiological and psychological extreme limits. People would like to involve in such tours is not only to conquer the natural barrier but also to win and surpass themselves.

This kind of sport is very demanding and somewhat risky, so people with no professional knowledge and training are not apt to get engaged in it. That’s why it is called minority sports.

But such sports activities have already got much attention; some of the sports items, therefore, have been simplified and given Corresponding safe securities, for instance, the artificial rock-climbing walls and cleared rivers for drifting.

More and more people can become its participants. The extreme and adventure sports have four usual items:

  1. Rock-Climbing: Thrills and stimulus is its feature. It can meet people’s desires of challenging nature and themselves when returning to nature and seeking stimulation, meanwhile, it can help people to enjoy the triumph and great pleasure after achieving their climbing.

  2. Drifting: Sailing a rubber raft or other boat with no motive power, governing its direction through the paddle, and drifting down by turns turbulent and gentle rivers, to perform a stunning moment against nature.

  3. Adverse Current Rafting: It’s an exploratory expedition overcoming various topographical hindrances when up a canyon river or stream as far as its beginning. Perfect cooperation among companions is needed to accomplish this arduous trip, so adverse-current rafting is a sports of teamwork.

  4. Exploration: The vital energy and magic of an exploratory tour lies in its spirit of battling to conquer hardships and wresting from nature her secrets. China stretches across a vast area and owns incommensurable geomorphic types of diversity and typicality, which provides abundant sources for exploratory traveling.

Characteristics of Sports Tourism Market

The characteristics of the sports tourism market essentially are the features of demand in the sports tourism market. To be specific, the features of demanding in sports tourism market are the following:

  1. Integrity of Demanding in Sports Tourism
  2. Sensitivity of Demanding in Sports Tourism
  3. Directivity of Demanding in Sports Tourism
  4. High Elasticity of Demanding in Sports Tourism
  5. Variability of Demanding in Sports Tourism
  6. Seasonality of Demanding in Sports Tourism
  7. Dependency of Demanding in Sports Tourism

Integrity of Demanding in Sports Tourism

The integrity of the demand in sports tourism mostly refers to the completeness that sports tourists require from sports tourism products and services. The integrity of the demand in sports tourism is embodied in the multiplicity of the demands during the process of a sports tour.

They are basic physiological needs, safety needs, and high-level needs of enjoyment, development, and self-fulfillment. So sports tourism is expected to provide complex products to the tourists in order to satisfy their manifold demands during the traveling.

The integrity of the demand in sports tourism calls for that the provider of sports traveling products effectively combine their various products and service, or reasonably arrange the time and places to guarantee the overall requirement in the process of a sports tour.

Sensitivity of Demanding in Sports Tourism

The demand in sports tourism is quite delicate to the changes in the social, political situation, as well as traveling fad in destinations.

If a sports traveling destination has no stable society or is suffered from natural disasters, there’s no doubt that the demand in sports tourism will decrease; no matter how low the prices of its sports traveling products are, there’s no big attraction to sports tourists.

Directivity of Demanding in Sports Tourism

Two different meanings are included. First, sports tourists must leave their residences for the traveling destinations to meet their own needs of sports tours, which is to say, sports consumers need to go to a specific region for their demands of sports traveling.

High Elasticity of Demanding in Sports Tourism

It can be elaborated in two ways. On one hand, the demand for sports tourism is a comparatively higher level need, which is on the basis of the requirement of essential living conditions. When people’s income has a raise in proportion, the demand for sports tourism can go up in a large proportion.

Variability of Demanding in Sports Tourism

The big matches with strong admiration often alter the flow of the tourists of sightseeing sports tour to different destinations as the host cities and regions shift. For example, Olympic Games and World Cup are held every four years, but the host cities and areas differ every four years.

Such great sports are obliged to attract a great amount of sports tourists and form the huge flow of sports tourist resource to increase sharply the reception. Next Olympic Games and World Cup will attract the tourists’ flow to another city and area, causing its reception too.

Variability of the demand in sports tourism indicates the unbalance of area distribution when the sightseeing sports tourists transfer along with the variation of the host cities or regions of large-scaled sports matches.

As a consequence, the men’s times received at a certain time differ between host cities or regions and non-host cities or regions.

Seasonality of Demanding in Sports Tourism

Seasonality of the demand in sports tourism means the unbalance of seasonal distribution. For some resorts, traveling men times accepted in a year largely correlate with the shift of seasons. Accordingly, there are the distinctions of booming season, normal season, and slack season in sports tourism.

The primary reason for the disparity is the seasonal variation of sports traveling resources. The seasonality of the sports resources is decided by the latitudes, geographic features and positions, and climates, so the conditions or circumstances of doing sports are changing with the season.

The demands of sports tourism are concentrated in large quantities in specific seasons or times instead of being averagely distributed in each month in a year.

Dependency of Demanding in Sports Tourism

This kind of dependency represents its reliance in all comprehensive supplying circumstances.

It lies on sports traveling environment and facilities, on the natural, geographic, and weather conditions, on sports traveling products’ peculiarity and appeal, service quality, and prices, on transportation, communication, hotels, and the like infrastructures, on the improvement of the society and communities in destinations, and on the recognition of the values between homogeneous cultures and heterogeneous cultures as well.

All these reasons cause that most demands and supply concentrate in some special countries and regions, and in some particular period of time.

Sports Tourism in India

A holiday with friends or family to witness a mega sporting event is no longer an alien concept for Indian travelers.

The number of travelers keens on a ringside seat to cheer for the ‘men in blue at the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh or their favorite team during T20 tournament or driver in a formula one race is rapidly growing.

And these sporting enthusiasts are willing to spend ‘top dollar’ to jet-set across the globe to experience the thrill of watching their favorite game live. These fans also like to ‘live it up’ exploring and enjoying the destination simultaneously.

Correspondingly, there has also been a marked rise in the number of tour operators and agents specializing in servicing the requirements of this particular segment. It’s not only niche specialists, but also big mainstream tour operators who set up a separate division to tap the potential of Sports Tourism.

While Sports Tourism in India is primarily outbound, there are small inroads also being made on the inbound and domestic front. Overall, according to industry experts, the segment is expected to have a growth rate of 10-20 percent in the coming years.

Sports Tourism has diversified from its conventional form restricted to viewing the sport live, to be clubbed with MICE or leisure trips. Hence, delegates from the corporate world are often witnessed weaving their conventions and business sessions with various sporting events.

The present scenario has further evolved itself to include families accompanying delegates and fans to the sporting event. They consider the event as an incentive to visit and explore the destination wherein they indulge in shopping and other leisure activities.

Commonwealth Games 2010

With innumerable infrastructure disasters and last-minute hiccups, the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi turned out to be a politically turbulent event. Many major travel agencies and tour companies in the country also decided to play it safe and backed out from promoting the Games.

However, the Games played a vital role in creating a major chunk of long-overdue infrastructure in the capital and also showcasing ‘Incredible India’ to the world. The opening ceremony was a spectacular melange of our diversity and culture.

The Games went off without a hitch and gave great exposure to the country. As per information from the Immigration authorities at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) from October 1-14, 2010 (Commonwealth Games period) stood at 75,606.

Also, according to industry feedback, FTAs to India in October 2010, saw a rise by 9.2 percent (about 4.87 lakh tourists), as compared to the same period last year.

Cricket World Cup Mania

While the 2010 Commonwealth Games fever has barely left India, the country is all set to co-host another important sporting event of relatively greater popularity: the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2011, to be held from February 17 to April 2, 2011.

As the cricket mania gathers momentum in the country with a massive cricket craze, most travel agents and tour operators in India seem to be making the best of the opportunity by designing packages around the tournament to change the outlook of Sports Tourism.

Which is still a niche trend in the country. The response has so far been good that most travel and tour operators foresee a shortage of tickets due to increasing demands from fans. An increasing number of requests to block dates during the CWC have come from groups of NRIs and families as well.

Tour operators are forming larger groups to make bulk reservations so as to sell packages at economic rates. As it is obvious, the result is that demands are higher for Indian matches. “Some of the travelers, especially from middle and high-end segments, are taking the tournament as an incentive to explore the country.

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