Unleashing the Power of Sports: How Sporting Events Drive Tourism Growth

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Sporting events often serve as catalysts for tourism, and sports activities and tourism have a symbiotic relationship. These events provide nations with an excellent opportunity to attract tourists. Sports events can help destinations stand out and draw visitors regardless of scale. Beyond ticket sales, these visitors contribute to the local economy by spending on various aspects such as lodging, meals, entertainment, and extending their stay. This financial support positively impacts the local economy, benefiting businesses and communities in the area. Travel agencies during sporting events create specialized itineraries to attract tourists. The influx of visitors generates demand for transportation, lodging, cafes, and restaurants, thus contributing to the local economy.

Sports tourism, as a subset of tourism, can also aid in achieving sustainable development on an economic level by supporting SDG 1 (end poverty in all of its forms everywhere) SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), 8 (promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all),  and SDG 11 (make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable).[i]

The International Federation (IF) Sustainability Project was started by the IOC in 2016 to gain an overview of their sustainability projects and discover common themes, challenges, and best practises. The IOC Sustainability Strategy, which builds on the Olympic Agenda 2020, was created in close collaboration with numerous partners and stakeholders with the goal of radically changing how the IOC, the Olympic Games, and the Olympic Movement operate.

The Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) organized seminars to promote environmentally friendly sports tourism in Uganda. These seminars included presentations and working group discussions to produce specific suggestions for ensuring sustainable tourism through sport. They also aimed to empower players to become effective spokespersons for sport’s contribution to sustainable tourism.[ii]

Additionally, sporting events attract investment to construct stadiums and training facilities, further stimulating economic growth. For instance, in addition to attending sporting events, visitors also take the opportunity to visit important historical sites. One notable example is the Olympic stadium in Barcelona, that draws tourists.

Indian sports fans exemplify the impact of sporting events on tourism, as they frequently travel across borders to attend events like cricket, football, tennis, F1, basketball, golf, and rugby.

“Indians are among the top purchasers of FIFA and T20 World Cup tickets, and at the moment, 10% of our outbound travellers travel specifically for sports,” says Singh Dev. It is anticipated that this will expand by 20% annually.[iii]

The Singapore Grand Prix, which generated  $1.5 billion in incremental tourism receipts, is an exemplary F1 event attracting tourists worldwide. In 2022, Indian tourists constituted the second-largest group of visitors to Singapore as a result of the F1’s comeback, significantly boosting Singapore’s tourism industry.[iv]

Formula 1 is gaining popularity in India, as evidenced by the growing fan base. According to a Nielsen survey in 2019, India ranked among the top five nations in terms of F1 fans, with 31.1 million followers. Moreover, about 40% of F1 spectators in India are women, as stated by F1 Chief Executive Stefano Domenicali in November 2022.[v]

Cricket also plays a significant role in driving the tourism industry. Despite cost increases, IPL matches being played across India since the pandemic has resulted in a 60-70% surge in demand for travel to match venues, according to Rajeev Kale, president and country head of holidays, MICE, and visa for Thomas Cook India Ltd.[vi]

Moreover, to lure tourists to Gulmarg, the Tourism Department Jammu and Kashmir took a strategic initiative to conduct winter sports activities.[vii]

These activities further contribute to revenue generation and stimulate the local economy. Large-scale sporting events have the potential to generate substantial revenue through ticket sales, boosting the overall economy.

Sports activities and tourism share a mutually beneficial relationship. Sporting events can attract tourists, stimulate the local economy, create employment opportunities, and drive investment in infrastructure. The popularity of sports in India, such as cricket, football, Formula 1 and others, further reinforces the positive impact on tourism.

By capitalizing on these events, nations can experience a significant economic push and enhance their tourism industry.

Pema Choden Bhutia is a Research Scholar at Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.

Email: [email protected]



[i] https://www.sportanddev.org/latest/news/how-does-sport-contribute-tourism

[ii] https://stillmed.olympics.com/media/Document Library/OlympicOrg/IOC/What-We-Do/celebrate-olympic-games/Sustainability/Case-Studies/2018/UOC-SUSTAINABLE-TOURISM-IN-SPORT.pdf

[iii] https://www.forbesindia.com/article/take-one-big-story-of-the-day/fun-and-games-how-sports-tourism-is-picking-up-pace-in-india/81117/1

[iv] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/singapore-tourism-gets-boost-from-f1s-return-and-high-indian-tourist-arrivals/articleshow/94442245.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

[v] https://www.redbull.com/in-en/f1-popularity-in-india

[vi]  https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/cricket-tourism-drives-travel-business-in-spite-of-rise-in-costs-11684258681428.html

[vii] https://indusdispatch.in/several-winter-sports-activities-to-be-organized-in-kashmirs-gulmarg-to-attract-tourists/


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