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Sport Tourism: Interrelationships, Impacts and Issues

Sport Tourism: Interrelationships, Impacts and Issues

by Brent W. Ritchie (Editor), Daryl Adair (Editor)

This book examines the economic, social and environmental impacts and issues associated with the development of sport tourism globally, including the lack of research and coordination between industry and government. The book suggests the need for a more balanced analysis of the impacts and issues associated with future sport tourism development.


This book examines the economic, social and environmental impacts and issues associated with the development of sport tourism globally, including the lack of research and coordination between industry and government. The book suggests the need for a more balanced analysis of the impacts and issues associated with future sport tourism development.

Product Details

Channel View Publications
Publication date:
Aspects of Tourism Series , #14
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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Sport Tourism

Interrelationships, Impacts and Issues

By Brent W. Ritchie, Daryl Adair

Multilingual Matters

Copyright © 2004 Brent W. Ritchie, Daryl Adair and the authors of individual chapters
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-873150-66-5


Sport Tourism: An Introduction and Overview



The concept of sport-related tourism has become more prominent in the last few years as both an academic field of study and an increasingly popular tourism product (Gibson, 1998). This Chapter 1provides an introduction to the concept and practice of sport tourism. It also provides an overview of how the book explores the interrelationships, impacts and issues associated with sport tourism. However, in terms of the development of the field of sport tourism, readers are directed to the extensive analysis provided by Hinch and Higham (2003). In the present study, Chapter 1 begins by defining key terms such as sport, tourism and sport tourism before outlining various types of sport tourism that comprise a basis for various chapters within this book. The chapter notes the growing academic and industry interest in the field of sport tourism. It concludes by highlighting the main themes from specific chapters of the book and explains how readers might best use the book. To begin with, we outline a brief history of sport tourism, illustrating that the interrelationship between sport and tourism is not a new phenomenon.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this chapter readers should:

(1) Understand the increase in sport tourism and the growing attention of industry, government and research in this field.

(2) Be able to define and understand the concepts of sport, tourism and sport tourism.

(3) Be able to highlight the major segments of sport tourism including active, event and nostalgia sport tourism, as well as the capacity to provide specific examples of each.

(4) Understand how interdisciplinary research can advance the understanding of sport tourism as an academic sub-discipline and an industry sector.

Current Interest in Sport Tourism

Researchers have recognised that people have been travelling to participate or watch sport for centuries (see Delpy, 1998; Gibson, 1998). Today sport and tourism are among the 'developed' world's most sought after leisure experiences. Just as significantly, these popular social practices have also become very important economic activities. Recent research has indicated that the contribution sport makes to the gross domestic product (GDP) of industrialised nations is between 1–2%, while the contribution of tourism is between 4–6% (WTO, 2001). Research conducted on sport tourism has been undertaken at international and national levels by researchers, government and non-governmental organisations, thus illustrating the growing importance and recognition of sport tourism as an industry sector.

At the international level the World Tourism Organization (WTO, 2001) concluded that German tourists accounted for 32,000,000 sport-orientated trips a year, or 55% of all outbound travel, while 52% (7,000,000) of all trips made by Dutch tourists included a sport component. French tourists were less motivated by sport holidays, although 23% or 3.5,000,000 trips still included a sport component. Across the English Channel, the British Tourist Board and the English Tourism Council (formerly the English Tourism Board) claim that as many as 20% of tourist trips are directly related to sports participation, while 50% of holidays contain some form of incidental sports participation (DISR, 2000). However, this development is not simply a European trend. Research conducted in Canada during 1998 demonstrated that 37.3% of the 73,7000,000 domestic recreational journeys were undertaken for attendance at a sports event. In 1996 a Canadian Sports Tourism Initiative programme was developed to increase the tourism potential of sports events in Canada (Canada Tourism, 2000). Similarly, in South Africa, 4% of the domestic tourism market comprises sport tourism, and the potential to develop the international sport tourism market can be best seen by the recent inauguration of South Africa Sports Tourism (SAST). This is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Ministry of Sport and Recreation in South Africa. In Australia, the Bureau of Tourism Research (2000) has shown that a total of 12,900,000 domestic trips were undertaken by residents to either participate in, watch, or organise a sporting event in Australia during 1999. However, they note that only 3,5000,000 trips were overnight trips compared with 9,400,000 day trips, this illustrating that some tourism benefits from sport are not commercially maximised, with many visitors not staying overnight in hotel accommodation or visiting additional tourist attractions before or after a sporting event.

It is no surprise that sport and tourism have both received interest from academics and industry practitioners over recent decades. Curiously, though, the links and relationships between sport and tourism have largely been overlooked by scholars. Indeed, the genre of 'sport tourism' (of sport generating tourism activity or tourism generating sporting activity) is a recent research development. Despite growing interest there is still the need for a better understanding of the nature, impacts and management issues concerning the different segments of sport tourism.

The Nature of Sport Tourism

Sport definitions

Even among 'experts' there is considerable controversy over efforts to define sport. Some critics insist that an all-embracing definition is impossible because sport is a socially constructed activity that has varied across historical eras, societies and cultures. Others hold that sport has specific and timeless characteristics, such as being goal-oriented, competitive and a forum for the creation of winners and losers (Goodman, 1976; Paddick, 1975; Rader 1979). The term 'sport' has been applied to numerous and different types of activities, but this eclecticism has been a sore point for some. Critics of bullfighting, for instance, contend that it is not a sport; among their arguments is the point that the bull is deliberately weakened for the spectacle, so it is not a 'sporting contest' at all (Marvin, 1986). Moreover, while some historians are comfortable with the term sport for gladiator fights in ancient Rome, others emphasise the inherent inequality between those contestants and the absence of consent to rules (Plass, 1995). On this score sport, like beauty, seems culturally relative and conceptually elusive.

Yet there is some common ground about the notion of sport among 'western' scholars. Jay Coakley's definition is a typical example of the attempt to classify sport. He cites four major factors:

Physical conditions

• Use of physical prowess, physical skill or physical exertion.

Complex physical skills

• Coordination, balance, quickness, or accuracy; speed, strength and endurance.

• Excludes non-physical activities such as chess and cards.

• Includes human use of equipment and machines, i.e. motor car racing.

Institutionalised and competitive

• Rules are standardised.

• Rule enforcement is overseen by official regulatory agencies.

• Organisation and technical aspects of the activity are important.

• Learning of playing skills becomes formalised.

Individual participation is motivated by a combination of intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors

• Intrinsic rewards through involvement (dynamics of the activity – play, fun, etc.)

• Extrinsic rewards through (salary, prize money, medals, fame).

• If the orientation tips toward intrinsic, the activity is more play like,

• If the orientation tips toward extrinsic the activity is more game like.

Coakley also provides a fairly typical working definition of organised sport: 'Sport is an institutionalised competitive activity that involves vigorous physical exertion or the use of relatively complex skills by individuals whose participation is motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors' (Coakley, 2001: 8).

Historian Alan Guttmann, seeking to acknowledge the changing nature of sport, has attempted to pinpoint characteristics of modern, as compared with pre-modern, sporting activities (Guttmann, 1974). He identifies these seven features that, in his view, are necessary preconditions for a sport to be accepted as part of modern societies:

(1) Secularism (absence of the religious element from sport; i.e. not competing to 'please the Gods').

(2) Equality (participation open to all, with competitors facing the same set of competitive conditions).

(3) Specialisation (attuning athletic skills to specific positions and roles).

(4) Rationalisation (sports governed by specific rules, playing conditions, types of equipment, etc.).

(5) Bureaucratisation (sports competitions regulated by organisations, which contain hierarchies of power and responsibility).

(6) Quantification (predilection for precise measurement of athletic performance).

(7) Records (provide archive of performance achievements of athletes over time, under certain conditions, etc.).

Notwithstanding these definitions, it needs to be pointed that sporting activities may be either formal or recreational. The key, it is argued, is that there should be at least three persons (two taking part and a third to act as referee or judge), and they must be engaged in competition to establish a winner (Coakley, 2001). Over and above that, modern sport is generally considered to be highly organised and structured, with contests taking place at common times and places, and records kept of performances. This view may, however, be unnecessarily rigid – particularly in terms of recreational sporting activities. Two people can play a game of tennis informally without the need for an umpire, and can easily keep score. Moreover, golf can be played by counting strokes or, it seems, without counting at all. Purists may contend that such practices deviate and distort the 'true' meaning of sport. But it defies common sense for an observer to conclude that the aforementioned activities, though ad hoc and semiserious, are not a form of sport. They are, arguably, sport-as-play, whereas tightly structured and goal-oriented tennis matches and golf tournaments are sport-as-competition (Gruneau, 1980). In terms of sport tourism, sport-as-play is normally associated with active tourist behaviour (taking part in sport), while sport-as-competition is usually associated with passive tourist behaviour (witnessing sport) – though in the latter case sports tourists can also be competitors, such as with young tennis players following the satellite circuit in Europe, playing to win but sight-seeing between matches. We might conclude, therefore, that both sport-as-competition and sport-as-play are legitimate ways of conceptualising the physical activities we take for granted as 'sport'. Crone, none the less, reminds us that there are key aspects to competitive sport that mark it as different to playful sporting activity:

(1) the degree of emphasis on winning;

(2) the degree of emphasis on extrinsic rewards (e.g. money, power, and prestige);

(3) the amount of bureaucratization (Crone 1999).

Sport has, of course, long been part of the educational curriculum, though now associated more than ever with the health and life sciences. More noticeable, of course, is how elite-level sport has been influenced by commercialisation and professionalism – so much so that the amateur ideals once taught in school sports appear somewhat irrelevant. Sport is consumed widely – by patrons at stadia, viewers in front of television, listeners within earshot of radio, readers of newspapers and magazines. It is also, now more than ever, a tourism product – as this book goes on to attest.

Tourism Definitions

The growth of tourism has been fuelled by general improvements in leisure time combined by increased discretionary income for many people. This has helped to fuel a desire to escape from work routine and engage in holidays, whether domestically or internationally. Definitions of tourism vary with respect to whether the term is applied from a supply side (industry) perspective or a demand side (consumer) perspective. As Smith (1988: 181) has noted, 'there are many different legitimate definitions of tourism that serve many different, legitimate needs'. Moreover, many of the tourism definitions vary due to organisations or individuals trying to define their own motives for tourism activities and opportunities. However, there is common ground covered by many of the definitions.

An early definition of tourism stated that a minimum of a 24-hour stay at a site was required for an individual to be considered a 'tourist'. However, this has been modified to an overnight stay which, according to Weaver and Oppermann (2000: 28) 'is a significant improvement over the former criterion of a 24-hour stay, which proved to be both arbitrary and extremely difficult to apply'. If a person's trip does not incorporate at least one overnight stay, then the term excursionist is usually applied (Weaver & Oppermann, 2000). This definition can be applied to both international and domestic travellers. For example, international stayovers (or tourists) are those who stay in a destination outside their usual country of residence for at least one night, while international excursionists (or same-day visitors) are those who stay in an international location without residing overnight. Furthermore, a domestic stayover (or tourist) is someone who stays overnight in a destination that is within their own country of residence but outside of their usual home environment (usually specified by a distance of some kind). Domestic excursionists (or same day visitors) undertake a similar trip but do not stay overnight.

Smith (1988) believes that it is difficult to determine the precise magnitude of the tourism industry due to an absence of an accepted operational definition of tourism. Nevertheless, the tourism industry has been defined in principle as a sector that 'encompasses all activities which supply, directly or indirectly, goods and services purchased by tourists' (Hollander et al., 1982: 2). Hall (1995: 9) believes that three factors tend to emerge when examining various definitions about the tourism industry:

• the tourism industry is regarded as essentially a service industry;

• the inclusion of business, pleasure, and leisure activities emphasises 'the nature of the goods a traveller requires to make the trip more successful, easier, or enjoyable' (Smith 1988: 183); and,

• the notion of a 'home environment', refers to the arbitrary delineation of a distance threshold or period of overnight stay.

However, McIntosh et al. (1995: 10) take a more systems based approach when defining tourism as 'the sum of phenomena and relationships arising from the interaction of tourists, business suppliers, host governments, and host communities in the process of attracting and hosting these tourists and other visitors'. This definition includes the potential impacts that tourists may have upon the host community, which until recently was a neglected component of the definition process.

The above discussion illustrates that there are many different components to defining tourism, which range from tourists themselves, the tourism industry and even the host community or destination. A number of authors therefore view tourism as an integrated system of components (Gunn, 1988; Leiper, 1989; Mathieson & Wall, 1982; Mill & Morrison, 1985; Murphy, 1985; Pearce, 1989) that generally contain a number of interrelated factors:

• a demand side consisting of the tourist market and their characteristics (motives, perceptions, socio-demographics);

• a supply side consisting of the tourism industry (transport, attractions, services, information) which combine to form a tourist destination area;

• a tourism impact side whereby the consequences of tourism can have either direct or indirect positive and negative impacts upon a destination area and tourists themselves;

• an origin-destination approach that illustrates the interdependence of generating and receiving destinations and transit destinations (on route) and their demand, supply and impacts.

According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO, 1999) tourism is predicted to increase with future tourist arrivals growing to 1.6 billion by the year 2020 at an average growth rate of 4.3%. Despite the effect of external variables, such as the Asian Economic Crisis in the late 1990s and the 11 September incident in 2001, tourism growth appears to be assured. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC, 2001) tourism currently generates 6% of global gross national product (GNP) and employs 1 in 15 workers worldwide. It is predicted that by 2011 it will directly and indirectly support one in 11.2 workers and contribute 9% of gross national product worldwide (WTTC, 2001).

Sport tourism definitions and segments

Alongside the rising academic attention devoted toward sport and tourism has appeared a growing interest in the interrelationships between two of the most conspicuous aspects of sport-related tourist activity. Sport tourism includes travel to participate in a passive (e.g. sports events and sports museums) sport holiday or and active sport holiday (e.g. scuba diving, cycling, golf), and it may involve instances where either sport or tourism are the dominant activity or reason for travel. Standevan and De Knop (1999: 12) therefore define sport tourism as 'all forms of active and passive involvement in sporting activity, participated in casually or in an organised way for non-commercial or business/commercial reasons that necessitate travel away from home and work locality'.


Excerpted from Sport Tourism by Brent W. Ritchie, Daryl Adair. Copyright © 2004 Brent W. Ritchie, Daryl Adair and the authors of individual chapters. Excerpted by permission of Multilingual Matters.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Brent W. Ritchie is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism at the University of Canberra, Australia and a Faculty Fellow in the Faculty of Management and Information Sciences, University of Brighton, England. He has published in the areas of active and event sport tourism and is member of the Journal of Sport Tourism editorial board.

Daryl Adair is a Senior Lecturer in Humanities and Head of the Centre for Sports Studies at the University of Canberra, Australia. He has published widely in the areas of sport and popular culture.

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