Sports tourism has witnessed a boom over the past couple of decades with more connecting flights and tour operators tapping into the potential of transporting sports fanatics around the world. Clubs and national teams are keen to have the support of their fans wherever they travel, so often liaise with travel companies to provide excellent package deals to club members.
European cities that host successful sports teams or world class venues can often benefit from high levels of tourism, often regardless of whether the surrounding region is particularly attractive to visitors. Blind faith can carry sports fans across the globe – for instance Manchester probably receives more foreign tourism due to the appearances of Manchester City and Manchester United in European football competitions than through any other channels besides business trips. The city itself has hosted the Champions League Final, UEFA Cup Final and Commonwealth games, as well as Ashes test cricket and various other showpieces across a range of sports.
The regenerative effect that world European sporting events can have on countries is also hugely beneficial to the longevity of their status as an attractive tourist destination. A current example is the forthcoming European Championships that are due to be hosted by Poland and the Ukraine in the summer of 2012. The showpiece of European international football has given both countries the opportunity to invest in their tourism infrastructure, as well as building new state of the art stadia that can be used for other big sporting events and concerts.
The guaranteed tourism that the Championships will bring – with fans from each of the 14 other nations that take part sure to travel to watch their team – will increase awareness of Poland and the Ukraine and each of the cities that are hosting matches as tourism destinations for future generations.
Helping Struggling Economies
Over in Cyprus, a country where the economy has taken a hit as a result of the decrease in the number of European citizens choosing to holiday abroad currently, the achievements of the national football champions have brought a welcome boost to the winter tourism trade. APOEL – who are based in Nicosia and are one of the country’s most successful clubs – have had a remarkable season so far. By reaching the Champions League group stages for a second time, they ensured a windfall of television revenue, as well as visits from the fans of Zenit St Petersburg, FC Porto and Shaktar Donetsk. Now, having remarkably won their group, they will play in the knockout stages in the New Year.
The feats of APOEL have improved the profile of the country and it acts as a fine example of what sport can do for the tourism industry.
Author biography James Howson is a sports fanatic, avid traveller and timeshare expert with over a decade of experience reviewing top resorts. He owns a timeshare in Portugal and has advised people the world over on how to sell a timeshare.