What is 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 annual direct visitor spending associated with (non-professional) sports events and tourism was calculated to be $11.4 billion in 2017.1

This market is primarily made up of amateur and youth athletes who travel to participate in sports events.
53 million traveling athletes participate in youth sports events.2 The grown in youth sports market has been deemed 'recession proof' and the boon has continued year-over-year. Families spend an estimated $10 billion on youth sports travel annually.3
34.9 million people travel with an overnight stay to participate in or watch an amateur sports event.4
Also, growing we have seen outdoor recreation reach 2.2% of U.S. GDP, at $427 billion in 2017. This was up from $412 billion in 2016, which exceeded mining, utilities, farming/ranching and chemical product manufacturing. Outdoor recreation now contributes over $778 billion to the U.S. gross output and supports 5.2 million jobs.5
The sports tourism market presents economic opportunities for event owners, sporting goods manufacturers, the outdoor recreation industry, the travel industry and host destinations. Sports tourism is a powerful driver for economic impact. Destinations are leveraging their assets to create sports tourism opportunities that benefit their communities.
Sports is economic development.


1National Association of Sports Commissions 2017 State of the Industry Report

2University of Florida


4Sports Marketing Surveys USA

5Bureau of Economic Analysis