Sport tourism

Sport is physical activity, primarily done or watched for recreation. Some sports are also modes of transportation (cycling, hiking, cross country skiing, horse riding etc). Sports tourism refers to travel which involves either observing or participating in a sporting event while staying apart from the tourists’ usual environment. Sport tourism is a fast-growing sector of the global travel industry.

There are several classifications of sport tourism. Gammon and Robinson suggested that sports tourism can be categorized as Hard Sports Tourism or Soft Sports Tourism, while Gibson suggested that there are three types of sports tourism: Sports Event Tourism, Celebrity and Nostalgia Sport Tourism and Active Sport Tourism.

Hard and soft sport tourism
The “hard” definition of sport tourism refers to the quantity of people participating at a competitive sport events. Normally these kinds of events are the motivation that attract visitors to the events. Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, F1 Grand Prix and regional events such as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series could be described as hard sports tourism.

The “soft” definition of sport tourism is when the tourist travels to participate in recreational sporting, or signing up for leisure interests. Hiking, skiing, running and canoeing can be described as soft sports tourism. Perhaps the most common form of soft sports tourism involves golf in regards to destinations in Europe and the United States. A large number of people are interested in playing some of the world’s greatest and highest ranked courses, and take great pride in checking those destinations off of their list of places to visit.

Sports event tourism
Sports event tourism refers to the visitors who visit a city to watch events. The two events that attract the most tourists worldwide are the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. These events hold once every four years, in a different city in the world. Sport tourism in the United States is more focused on events that happen annually. The major event for the National Football League is the Super Bowl, held at the end of the year in different city every year. Even though the National Hockey League started the annual NHL Winter Classic game in 2008, the 2014 New Year’s outdoor hockey game rivaled the Stanley Cup Tournament in popularity and “revitalized the NHL”. As of 2015, the newest trend in college basketball was to start the season off with annual tournaments such as the Maui Invitational held in Hawaii, and the Battle for Atlantis which is played in the Bahamas. This idea of pairing quality sports events with the Bahamas attractions raised the island’s profile and brought in more visitors and dollars to the country. The Battle for Atlantis brought more than 5,000 fans in during Thanksgiving week for the three-day tournament. The event helped increase hotel capacity from what is typically around 60 percent this time of year to 90 percent. Sport tourism “is a growing market and many different cities and countries want to be involved,”

Celebrity and nostalgia sport tourism
Celebrity and nostalgia sport tourism involves visits to the sports halls of fame and venue and meeting sports personalities in a vacation basis.

Active sport tourism
Active sport tourism refers to those who participate in the sports or sport events. Rugby football, football, basketball, etc are considered active sports and many sport events (which we call tournaments or festivals) are organized each year in most of the countries in the world.

There are several reasons to combine sport with travel.

Travellers might want to build up physical fitness at home, before an arduous journey.
A destination might have favourable weather.
A destination might have favourable nature, or sport facilities.
One destination, typically a low-income country, might provide a sport experience at a lower cost than another.
Some sports can be illegal or strongly regulated in some countries, while legal in others.
The destination might hold competitions, tours or organized events.
Travellers might want to uphold their exercise habits while travelling.

Outdoor sport


Horse riding

Rock climbing

Wilderness backpacking

Air sport
Air sport includes skydiving, paragliding, hang gliding, and hot air ballooning. See also general aviation.

Winter sport
Winter sport is done on ice or snow, typically in cold weather. A gratifying experience, while requiring precautions for ice safety and snow safety.

Downhill snowsports
Downhill snowsports, include alpine skiing, snowboarding and Telemark skiing. Ski resorts around the world attract millions of travellers yearly.

Cross country skiing
Cross country skiing can be used as a mean to travel easily in thick snow in the wilderness or as an alternative pastime on ski resorts. It can allow quite easy access to places which seem untouched by man. The skis are different from those used in downhill skiing.

Snowkiting is “winter’s newest extreme sport”, requiring only the wind, a snowkite, skies or snowboard, and an attitude for fun. The sport has endless possibilities, such as backcountry skiing without a ski lift or resort – your snowkite will pull you uphill and downhill at varying speeds. Snowkites can accelerate up to 50 MPH. The lifting power of the wind will allow you to jump to distances of up to 100 feet.

When snowkiting in the backcountry be aware of avalanche danger! Always snowkite in groups, wear an avalanche beacon, dress warm, and never exceed your limits.

Snowkiting is popular in Central Utah, a region of the United States of America.

Snowmobiling is a sport involving riding over snow on a motorized vehicle. It is popular throughout the western United States of America as well as in Canada and Alaska.

Ice skating
Telemark skiing

Water sport
Water sport is any recreational activity in, or on, a body of water. See Kitesurfing, Scuba diving, sea kayaking, SNUBA, Whitewater sports and Windsurfing.

Hiking and running

Hiking can either be done as day hikes, as wilderness backpacking or as hiking along long hiking routes leading through both towns and countryside and possibly wilderness, such as the E11 hiking trail from Netherlands to Poland or the pilgrimage route Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela.

Orienteering is another popular outdoor sport. It involves using a map and terrain navigation skills to follow a course in the least time. The sport has an international following, world championships, and training programs, and takes place in beautiful and interesting locations. Orienteering meets hosted by the top clubs draw thousands of participants from around the world.

Orienteering skills are needed (and can be enjoyed) also without competitive elements, especially when tracking in the backcountry.

Destinations: New Mexico (near Santa Fe).

Closely related to orienteering are rogaining and adventure racing.

Running is both an activity undertaken by casual joggers wanting to stay in shape during their travels, and also by those who seek out marathons and other competitions around the world. Recently travel companies have begun offering packages for those travelling abroad for races that focus on the specific needs of the runner.

The Marathon distance is pursued around the world.


Geocaching is a treasure-hunting game that involves the internet, GPS map co-ordinates and travel. Players report their treasure hunt activities on-line to gain credits for their finds. Many of the players place caches (treasures) in spots they are quite fond of. So hunting them down will quite often lead to exciting adventures in lesser known locations.

One object of the game is to carry treasure from one cache to the next. Some of the treasures have identification information, so their travels can be tracked on-line. To play the game you will need a GPS receiver (or a map and the orienteering skills to use it), the cache description (make a printout) and about 1 hour spare (more for a difficult cache).

Related to geocaching is the Degree Confluence Project where people contribute photographs of the planet at points of intersection of lines of longitude and latitude. Most of the easy ones are done – but if you are hearing way off the beaten track this may be for you.

Golf is a game that is variously considered a pastime, recreation, sport, profession, religion or an obsession. To some the game is more an opportunity for relaxation than sport, and many travelers roam the world looking for unique and famous golf courses on which to hone their skill. Green fees might be cheaper in low-income countries.

Spectator sports
Watching sport is just as much a reason for travel as doing sports. Whether it is a road game of your favorite sports team, a world cup or the top competition of your favorite sport that you have so far only seen on television, chances are you won’t be able to do those things at home.

Football in Europe. The best soccer leagues and most of the top players are all in Europe and the UEFA champions league is considered among the best competitions of the sport, only rivaled in quality by the World Cup, European Championships and Copa América (South American continental championship).
American football. America’s most loved sport in terms of per game attendance is now played in other parts of the world as well, but to see the “real deal” most will consider travelling to North America, to see the best battle it out in the NFL, the CFL, and College Football at least once.
Rugby football. While rugby was invented in England, it has spread to almost all Commonwealth nations and some beyond that. The Rugby Union world cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and important rugby matches draw crowds nearing 100 000 people. However, in other countries, rugby is overshadowed by other sports and hardly played or watched. If you live in one of these, you’ll have to travel to see the best play.
Baseball in the United States. The overwhelmingly dominating sport before being overtaken by American football in the 1960s, baseball is still seen as “America’s pastime” with Major League Baseball but also some Minor league teams attracting talent from all over the world. The many games per season as well as the many minor league teams make it easy to watch a game while passing through and tickets are (for American tastes at least) moderately priced, with some minor leagues even having free admission.
Ice hockey in North America. The fast-moving winter sport was invented in Canada and remains that country’s official national winter sport, while the United States has made significant strides in both skill level and viewership.
Cricket. While this sport seems totally alien to most people who weren’t born and raised in one of the Commonwealth countries, it is fervently and feverishly loved in those countries where it is widely known. Games between some national sides are a matter of national pride, especially involving long standing rivalries such as England-Australia or Pakistan-India
Formula One While some (including the International Olympic Committee) wouldn’t call this a sport as it involves motorized vehicles, most of this activity’s fans would think otherwise.