tourism & city branding
Insights from the WTO: Differentiating a city’s brand through sporting events
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While sport represents great opportunities for cities to connect with a variety of public policy objectives – reflecting the economic, social and environmental concerns of today – it is also an effective tool towards the development of city branding, whether it is to change the perception of its inhabitants, to raise awareness about the city internationally or to forge a specific identity for a region.
With the rise in the number of sporting events across the world, the global sports tourism market is expected to grow over 36% during the period 2019-2023. However, sport is still the most underleveraged asset within the tourism industry.
So, how can cities effectively differentiate their brand through sporting events and position themselves as leading tourism destination? There are three important aspects to highlight.
Understand the way people enjoy tourism today
“Authenticity” is the key word. Indeed, trends show that the way people enjoy tourism has changed in recent years as they are looking for an ever-more authentic and emotional tourism experience that is linked to the discovery of a place, its culture, traditions or local products.
Sport appears to be an excellent experience provider. Each year, millions of fans travel the world to cheer for their favourite athletes and, on this occasion, often take more time to discover the host city. Sport can bring significant added-value to the overall tourist experience that a city can offer, hence help promoting it as a tourist destination.
Know where your city “belongs to”
Only by demonstrating the values of a place can its messages become authentic and effective. Is your city well known? What is it known for? These are important questions to start with to ensure the development of an effective brand strategy, aligned with the objectives of a city.
There are three main type places: cities well known for many reasons, cities well known for limited reasons, and relatively unknown cities. Make sure you know in which group your city belongs to before deciding how you want your event to help enhancing the brand of your city! Here is an interesting article which depicts the impact sporting events can have on cites’ brand depending on their type.
Establish a clear and comprehensive brand positioning across all stakeholders
Various stakeholders are involved in city branding, including the community as well as the local, regional and national authorities. All of them have different objectives and different responsibilities in the process, furthermore emphasising the importance of establishing a clear and comprehensive brand positioning across all stakeholders.
Note that stakeholder’s support goes beyond their collaborations on branding practices. It is therefore equally important to make sure all stakeholders are committed to invest in higher sporting budget which will enhance the city’s competitiveness as a leading city for sport.