The Use of Major Sporting Events to Drive Tourism


Major sporting events are increasingly being used by Governments as a tool to promote a region/country and to increase Tourism.

Take for example regions in the Middle East. The region has attracted premium events such as a round of the Formula 1 Championship and Cycling Championships to name but a few. These, and other sporting events, are assisting the region to promote itself on a global scale, while attracting Tourism to the area.

In Northern Ireland, major events such as the Giro D’Italia and the Irish Open have helped to project the beautiful NI scenery to audiences across the world while assisting to drive business Tourism and short stay ‎vacation.

So if you are working in the Tourism sector or in Government, what should you focus on if you want to use sport as a means to promote your region?

The following are a number of areas to consider:

  1. To begin with you need to have clear objectives ‎on what you are looking to achieve by using sport to drive Tourism
  2. Clearly identify which sporting events you want to attract that will help you meet your objectives.
  3. Consider the TV exposure generated from a major sporting event and in which countries that you are trying to reach.
  4. Ensure the sporting event generates bed nights and revenue for the Hospitality sector.
  5. Ensure you collect as much data as possible from visitors to the sporting event so that you can market to these people after the event .
  6. Make sure the host town is fully engaged with the organisers of the sporting event. From volunteers, to transport, to local businesses and sporting groups.
  7. It is important to develop and leave behind a legacy once the major sporting event has finished. What legacy within the local sports organisations and tourist organisations can be created?

There are many other areas to consider but the above provides the basic fundamentals.

One final note is that if Government are planning to use sport to help drive Tourism, the events must be extremely well organised and there needs to be a consistent use of sporting events over a sustained period of time.

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA across the world. He is also on the board of SportNI.  You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson or connect on Linkedin at

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