Sport Tourism – Managing risks and be ready for event hosting

Managing risks and be ready for event hosting – A Canadian perspective

Interview with Rick Traer, CEO Emeritus, Sport Tourism Canada

What is sport tourism?

There are many definitions for sport tourism in use throughout the world, but we use the following:

“Any activity in which people are attracted to a particular location as a sport event participant, an event spectator, or to attend sport attractions or business meetings.”

Our definition revolves around competitions, primarily because of our ability to quantify/measure the spending activity associated with events. That’s not to suggest, however, that other types of recreational or leisure activities (e.g., hiking, biking) are not part of the sport tourism landscape, as many definitions are broad enough to include such activities.

What is the role of major sports events in sport tourism strategy?

It is estimated that domestic and intercommunity events drive 85-90% of the CAN $6.8 billion sport tourism industry in Canada consisting of events that typically involve families traveling to competitions with their children on weekends (Friday to Sunday). After hosting local, provincial and national events, hosting international sport events can be a logical progression on the hosting continuum once the infrastructure, expertise and volunteer base is in place. Hosting major international events can achieve a variety of local or national objectives, including economic, tourism, social, sport and infrastructure development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept away all the certainties we had, including in the field of sports tourism. What do you think the future of sport tourism looks like? Would you talk about an evolution or a revolution?

When Sport Tourism Canada reached out to its members to ask the question‚ ‘My vision for the sport tourism industry in 2021 is …’ they delivered! The result is a compilation of self-recorded video submissions that tie into STC’s Bouncing Back initiative. Videos submitted feature the following destinations: Edmonton, Quebec City, London, Leduc, Penticton, Kelowna, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Lethbridge, Waterloo Region, Swift Current, Quispamsis, Lake Louise, Winnipeg, Calgary, Laval.

Here’s what they said:

Bouncing back Initiative

What are the key success factors for a sport tourism strategy for cities today / in a post-COVID 19 world?

The key success factors in the development of a sport tourism strategy for cities in a post-pandemic landscape were identified by our recent COVID-19 Recovery Task Force Report entitled Bouncing Back! that states that the planning playbook for sport events of all sizes is no longer applicable during the recovery of a global pandemic. Therefore rights holders, host organisations, venues and suppliers to events require support to be nimbler to enable informed decision-making. This state of readiness will prepare all stakeholders in the sport hosting system to adapt as knowledge evolves and risk mitigation measures are developed and made available. Planning in the short term will be completely different with factors for future sport hosting success including:

• Generating multiple sources of revenue including:

  • Public sources for bidding and hosting success;
  • Ticket revenue based on limited capacities due to public health requirements for host venues; and
  • Sponsor revenue with reduced business to business and business to consumer opportunities.

• Managing event expenses based on new realities to meet operational requirements due to COVID-19.

• Developing new event operational protocols that meet public health requirements.

• Proactive risk management including health and safety, financial, legal and reputational risks will require collaboration from all groups involved in bidding and hosting.

• Creating positive sport event experiences for participants and spectators that meets local, provincial and Canadian standards require ingenuity and investment in tools and resources to support all stakeholders.

• Visitors will return to sport events before other leisure travel and their experience must be rooted in good planning, better communication with shared responsibility in building customer and public confidence in travel and events.

Over the mid to long-term, sport tourism can be reimagined to withstand the recovery from impacts of COVID-19 and ultimately adapt and thrive in bidding and hosting well beyond the pandemic.

If a city is interested in developing a sport tourism strategy, what would be your advice to them?

In Canada, one of the first tools we developed was the Sport Tourism Planning Template that was designed to serve host communities in two key ways: first, it can build understanding of the opportunity that sport tourism represents as an emerging market segment; second, communities seeking to establish or update a plan can benefit from using this process as a guide in the development of a comprehensive sport tourism strategy. This tool is broken down in five stages or modules: 1. Expanding Knowledge of Sport Tourism 2. Assessing Community Capacity 3. Building a Vision and Setting Objectives 4. Developing a Strategic Approach 5. Evaluation and Accountability Like all strategies, those for sport tourism are based on research specific to the market or community in question. The Sport Tourism Planning Template provides examples of the types of information that can be assessed to inform the short and longterm plans for sport tourism. A consistent approach to developing sport tourism, rooted in sound research and focused on clear outcomes and key performance indicators (KPIs), can help to enhance the economic, social/cultural and sustainability impacts realised from each sport event and the overall sport tourism program for a host community.

To learn more 

Sport Tourism Canada

Sport Tourism Canada (STC) is a non-governmental, member-based, capacity building organisation that promotes sport tourism as a grassroots economic development initiative at the community level. STC services over 500 members across Canada, including 130 municipalities, 300 national and provincial sport, multi-sport and major games organisations and a variety of other sport and tourism industry partners. Sport tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry in Canada with over $6.8 billion in annual spending by domestic and international visitors.