Calling all nerds!

Calling all nerds!

Well, they’re not really all nerds, but this week at the Travel and Tourism Research Association’s Marketing Outlook Forum, it was a little bit of a nerd convention. I apologize in advance to my industry friends new and old who may take this as anything less than the compliment it was meant to be.

This week in Bethesda, MD, I got to gather with some of the brightest minds changing the game – literally and figurately – in tourism data, analytics, and innovation. These are people who have developed new products and services to increase efficiency and refine the tourism ecosystem, of which sport is an integral part.

I had the privilege of providing the forum attendees with the Sports Tourism Industry Update and Forecast. It was the first time the sports sector has been a dedicated part of the program. And to me, that’s great news! Leisure tourism has received a lot of praise throughout the pandemic, as it should for obvious reasons. But sport is that pesky little sibling that is tagging right along everywhere leisure goes. Grant it, the re-emergence of sport has been inconsistent from destination to destination, but it’s there, and in the cases of some places, already eclipsing 2019 numbers.

As I type, our (Sports ETA’s) State of the Industry survey, being conducted in partnership with our good friends at Tourism Economics, is in the field. Through this research, we’ll be able to establish an even clearer snapshot of the 2020 dip and what sports-related travel has done since.

But here’s the shift…

A few years ago, no one asked about sport as a key tourism sector across the country. And now, I get stopped all the time to discuss. “Oh, you work in sports tourism?!” is a regular occurrence.

Other segments of tourism often struggle with local market value proposition. Sports tourism is a posterchild – highly visible, and tangible in the community. The tide is shifting, and sports not only plays the role of post-pandemic catalyst, but also as an example of what is achievable from a local value proposition perspective.

I’ve talked data, numbers, samples, etc. here until I’m blue in the face – and don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but here’s the thing…in its simplest form, tourism (sport or otherwise) is about doing something good for the communities we love, pure and simple. Contributing to the place that ultimately visitors visit, but where we – the locals – get to work, live, and play.

In my relatively short tenure in the industry, I’ve noticed sports tourism has come a long way in that conversation. And it’s such a testament to the great people working in the industry across the nation, and the world. Keep on pushing forward because I can assure you that your work is indeed being noticed…and most importantly, our communities are better off for it.

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