Sport Tourism

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The term sport tourism has become increasingly common in the tourism industry over the past five years; it is a lucrative segment of the tourism business. Lavalle (1997) estimated that sport tourism is a 845 billion industry. Sport-oriented vacations, however, are really nothing new. After all, the Romans and Greeks traveled to and participated in numerous sports events. Today's sport tourism is merely a new adaptation on an old theme. The growth in the popularity of sport-oriented leisure travel can be viewed daily. Cars laden with bicycles, skis, and canoes are a frequent sight on our highways. Likewise, the number of vacation destinations offering sporting facilities has grown tremendously. The profusion of golfers and new golf courses is a perfect example of the interest in sport-oriented travel. Waters (1990) reported that the shortage of golf courses in certain areas has prompted many travelers to spend their vacations at resorts that provide the opportunity to play their favorite games. Cruise ships, Walt Disney World, hotels, and communities all use sports as a marketing weapon in the battle for the tourism dollar. Town and cities contend with one another for the rights to host sporting events -- from the hallmark events such as the Olympic Games to the championship series of various amateur sports. Why has sport tourism become so prominent in recent years? Exactly what is sport tourism and what does it mean for communities and municipal park and recreation departments? What is Sport Tourism?

Over the past 10 years, there has been a growing debate in the academic community over the definition of sport tourism. Some of this stems from an ongoing discussion as to whether or not sport should refer only to competitive, formally organized physical activities (Loy, 1968). Should sport also encompass physical activities that are not governed by rules and time, and where competition may be minimal (Coakley, 1991)? Another debate surrounds tourism. Exactly who is a tourist? How far do you have to travel to be labeled a tourist? Is there a difference between a day-tripper and a person who stays at least one night away from home (IUOTO, 1963)? Why does it matter? If we are to effectively gauge the economic and social impacts on our communities, we need to be able to identity the sport tourist. Also, to effectively market and prepare events and facilities for the sport tourist, we need to be able to recognize this group. Thus, I would propose a working definition of sport tourism as, "Leisure-based travel that takes individuals temporarily outside of their home communities to play, watch physical activities, or venerate attractions associated with these activities." Specifically, I suggest: three major types of sport tourism: active sport tourism, event sport tourism, and nostalgia sport tourism (Gibson, 1998). Active Sport Tourism

Active sport tourism refers to participation in sports away from the home community. Despite the pervasiveness of sport in American culture, and the so-called "fitness boom," actual participation in sport declined for most segments of the population during the eighties and nineties. The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity (1996) found that less than 20 percent of the U.S. population is physically active on a regular basis. Nonetheless, despite the number of people who regularly participate in sport, these individuals are active participants. Howard (1992) found that two percent of the population accounts for 75 percent of the participation rates in physical activities. In a survey commissioned by Marriott International (Elrick & Lavidge, Inc, 1994), 22 percent of respondents considered opportunities to participate in sport important when planning a vacation. De Knop (1995) writes of the duplication effect, in which active sport tourists are those individuals who are physically active in their leisure at home. Thus, while il would be incorrect to overemphasize the attraction of...
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