The Economic Impact of Sports Tourism

The term sports tourism refers to visitors who will travel to a location for the purpose of participating in or watching a sports event. The 2017 State of the Industry Report published by the National Association of Sports Commissions in collaboration with Ohio University cites direct visitor spending associated with (non-professional) sports events and tourism was calculated to be $11.4 billion.

According to the 2016 State of the Industry Report by NASC, direct visitor spending in the United States related to sports tourism increased by 26%. The 2017 Report cited visitor spending increased again by 9%. Termed ‘recession proof’, sports tourism has remained constant, and in some cases increased, while ‘general’ tourism has traditionally declined during economic downturns.

Sports tourism benefits communities through a direct economic impact:

  • Visitor Spending
    • Overnight lodging
    • Restaurant visits
    • Retail purchases
  • Lodging Taxes
    • Communities that collect a lodging tax see an increase in revenue, creating more funds for the promotion of tourism.
  • Tourism Increase in Slow Seasons
    • Sports events are planned to offset slow season tourism economies

As well as indirectly:

  • Quality of Life
    • Tourism and community engagement improves quality of life
  • Property Values
    • As quality of life and standards of living are raised, increased property values often follow
  • Marketing Exposure 
    • Sports events act as marketing platforms by way of media exposure and visitor attraction, attracting visitors who otherwise may not have considered visiting.