Editorial: Sports tourism

DAVAO City will be hosting the Palarong Pambansa in 2019. It will also be hosting its second Ironman 70.3.

This gives the city's tourism a bigger push above the meetings, incentives, conventions and events (Mice) market that it has been focusing on, and bringing in more people through sports tourism.

Sports tourism refers to travelling to play sports, watch sports, or to visit a sport attraction.

Skal International officer Lavonne Wittmann described sports tourism as the “sleeping giant of the tourism market.”

He identifies three major types: the Sport Event Tourism, which can be as big-time as the Olympics of World Cup Rugby, or in Davao City's case, Ironman 70.3; the Active Sports Tourism where individuals actively participate or engage in sports related travel as a form of leisure, and; Nostalgia Sports Tourism, where travelers visit sport related attractions (like China's Bird Nest).

As we have witnessed in Ironman, while the participants' stay was short, they brought along their families, and we know what families outside their homes do. They eat, that alone is already a big plus.

While here, they get an overview of the city and get to know that this is far from the war-torn boondocks the clueless think our city to be.

Throw in Davao's premier tourist attraction, the President -- he was a major tourist attraction even as a mayor, now as President, his drawing power has increased a hundred folds.

Then there's the regular Mt. Apo Boulder Face Challenge that has been gaining more and more participants.

Weed and Bull (2004) identifies the five main categories: sports participation, tourism with sports content, luxury sports tourism, sports events, and sports training.

We see there is sports participation the city can offer, there's tourism with sports content, and sports events. That's a considerable coverage that can be enhanced to bring in the visitors.

The interest is there, the events are there. Now we have to make sure that the policies and facilities are there.

Tourists bring in crowds, crowds bring in congestion and additional load to wherever the events are. Tourism stakeholders must always have the environment aspect on top of their priorities along with profitability.

We have Boracay as example of how massive tourism can stretch the carrying capacity of the destination and the host of the activities.

As in any profit center, the components for sustainability must be in place. Thus, while we are glad that we are finally getting to host sports events, the policies should be in place before this goes out of hand. For one, do we even have a policy for sports tourism?
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