Sport Tourism – Message from the President of the World Union Olympic Cities

Grégoire Junod, Mayor of Lausanne and President of the World Union of Olympic Cities

The rapid growth of cities in recent decades has intensified many of the world’s most pressing challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the latest examples: 90% of the cases were reported in urban areas making cities the epicentres of the virus’ spread in June 2020.

While the world is still fighting against the coronavirus, the measures taken seem to be starting to bear fruit. Once the health crisis is behind us, cities will need to focus on economy recovery.

Sport and tourism are among the sectors greatly affected by the pandemic. Sport tourism could not withstand the massive drop in international demand amidst global travel restrictions, nor could it resist the fact that most sports activities were put on hold.

Sport tourism has often been identified as the fastest growing tourism sector and, along with other key pillars, represents a major factor not only in the development of the city but also in its economy.

Indeed, an increasing number of tourists are interested in sports activities during their travels, even if sport is not the main objective of the visit. From the hosting of sports events (spectators or mass participation-driven) to the promotion of active sport tourism, the sector of sport tourism at large has become an essential catalyst for cities aiming to develop their image, their infrastructure or even their social and economic development.

This new Smart Cities & Sport publication invites you to deepen the links between tourism and sport, proposes ideas for building the future of sport tourism together, and reflects on how sport tourism can be not just a tool to boost our economies, but can also contribute to create social fabric and strengthen social cohesion.

Cities have a key role to play in providing innovative and inclusive solutions to the challenges of the 21st century and in contributing to the achievement of the 2030 UN SDGs. Sport has already proven to be a fantastic catalyst for change in this regard. Let’s play our part in ensuring that sport tourism (r)evolution is guided by these principles.