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SPORTS TOURISM: The Momentum Of Sports Tourism from the 2010 FIFA World Cup


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Sports Tourism in South Africa over the past few years has considerably raise its profile as a world-class host of international sports events, from the 2003 Cricket World Cup to the 2010 Confederations Cup and of course the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Still riding the crest of the 2010 wave, South Africa now hopes to become a first-choice destination for sports events. The Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) is an important first step in ensuring we continue with our hosting successes.

“The influential speakers who will be presenting at the 2011 SETE in July have applauded the country for its 2010 FIFA World Cup triumph. However, they have emphasised that South Africa can’t now simply sit on the sidelines waiting for future events to present themselves,” says Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group.

“It is time for South Africa to fully leverage the successful hosting of the World Cup that saw our destination gaining status in the world’s mind as a mega event destination. We look forward to the debates and discussions that will emerge from the SETE conference in particular those surrounding the development of a national sports tourism strategy and a national bidding fund for South Africa”, says Sugen Pillay, Global Manager: Events at South African Tourism.

One such expert speaker, Michael Linley, believes that although the FIFA World Cup was “a job well-done”, which positively changed perceptions, there are considerable efforts that need to follow beyond the event. Linley, who is the Managing Director of Australian-based advisory firm BrandCapital International, says: “It is essential that South Africa now dedicate significant time and effort to building on its existing profile. South Africa cannot afford the luxury of just sitting back and basking in the glory of FIFA 2010.”

“As successful as the World Cup was in showcasing capability and allaying any concerns about South Africa, it is not enough to believe South Africa has arrived. The World Cup has created a window of opportunity for this country to establish itself as an iconic destination – but the work lies ahead not behind,” adds Linley.

With his experience in branding and research of large-scale events, Linley uses the case of Sydney, Australia as an example of failing to drive further efforts to ensure the sustainability of tourism. “As a beautiful city with iconic landmarks and already a desirable tourist destination, Sydney enjoyed its reputation for hosting ‘the best Olympics ever’ in 2000. Unfortunately, the effort and resources that went into hosting those Games were not carried into a calendar of future events. Within two years of Sydney’s Games, rival Melbourne had reclaimed the mantle of ‘best event destination’ in Australia - and it last held the Olympic Games in 1956.”

How to Enhance Sports Tourism in South Africa

One of the ways to further enhance South Africa’s sports tourism reputation, Linley believes, is in relationship building. Despite the recent advances in technology which have changed how business is done, the opportunity to meet and build relationships face-to-face is irreplaceable. “Events such as the 2011 SETE can be the ideal vehicle to promote a destination. My experience is that it is often the offline connections that can do the most to catalyse action. Thus, bringing key decision makers and experts into one place is invaluable to build these kinds of relationships.”

Another high profile SETE speaker, Douglas Turco, agrees. Turco, a professor of Sport Management at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA, adds: “Promoting the country as an ideal host for large-scale events may be one of the objectives of SETE. However, I also view SETE as an opportunity for the transfer of knowledge about what it takes to continue to be seen as a first-choice host for future events, so that other event managers and destination marketers can benefit.”

In his presentation, Turco will discuss how sport provides participants, spectators and media audiences with the opportunity to experience a host destination in ways other tourism activities do not.

With his topic specifically focusing on the ways that cities and regions have been branded by sport, Turco believes the FIFA World Cup has solidified certain provinces within South Africa as premier destinations. “Perhaps Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban do not need additional branding as they are already well-known, but other South African host cities have definitely raised their profiles as tourist destinations, thanks to the FIFA World Cup.”

The Success of Sports Tourism in South Africa

He believes South Africa has already elevated its stature as a world-class sports tourism destination by virtue of its recent string of successes. “South Africa's diverse sports resume includes locations and events for cycling, rally cars, marathons, golf, rugby, cricket and football. This is impressive and should continue to be highlighted by government and the media.”

Looking ahead, Turco suggests that the country should also concentrate on adventure-sports tourism experiences for active adults and families, such as cycling tours, kayaking-canoeing and sailing, rather than only competing for the few large-scale sports events that are held every four years. “For example, if further developed, nautical sports in South Africa would have an opportunity to capture an international niche market.”

Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group concludes, “The 2011 SETE is certainly paving the way to promote South Africa for future sports events that will continue to attract tourists. With such a prominent host of speakers lined up, we are anticipating many interesting and productive discussions that will secure South Africa’s position as a sustainable tourism destination and sports events host.” Therefore the 2011 SETE could help provide future sports events which can then help develop sports tourism in South Africa even further.

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