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Ireland can become top international Sport Tourism destination - Europe’s leading summit for sector to be told

20 January 2014

Cities and even rural communities will learn how they can get a slice of the €450bn global Sport Tourism industry in a major Shannon Airport sponsored think-tank with international experts set for Limerick next May.

The inaugural European Sport Tourism Summit, which will take place at Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick on Thursday May 15th, will also deliver recommendations that will be presented to Government regarding how Ireland can increase its share of the fastest growing sector in the global travel industry.  The Summit is being launched in Limerick as part of the city’s year-long National City of Culture 2014 programme.   Organised by W2 Consulting, the event will be attended by over 400 delegates drawn from local authorities, sports bodies, federations, clubs, charity organisations and communities here and abroad eager to attract global sports events and tournaments or develop their own major sports tourism product around mass participation events.  They will hear from leading global experts in the sector about how Ireland can attract major global sports events and how local organisations can develop their own successful sports tourism product capable of attracting millions in revenue to a region or local community.  The conference, which will be staged annually in Limerick, will be the biggest of its kind in Europe and already being dubbed the ‘Davos’ of the sports industry. 

Among the list of high profile international experts giving their insights at the event will be speakers from the Rugby World Cup, the new European Games 2015, Premier League Clubs and the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, one of the world’s most successful sports tourism organisation.
Delegates will also hear from Sarah Harvey, MD of Tough Mudder Europe, the largest Adventure race brand in the world and Patrick Torrent, who has been instrumental in developing Barcelona and the wider Catalonia region into one of the world’s leading Sport Tourism destinations.  Former England and Lions star Lawrence Dallaligo, who has led some of the UK’s highest profile charity fundraisers, is also among the list of high-profile speakers.

Regional sport tourism across Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way region alone is expected to deliver almost €19m in 2015 and capable of attracting 200,000 additional bed nights.
Full details, including registration, can be had on www.
Announcing the Summit, W2 Consulting director Keith Wood said that the Sport Tourism industry is on a steep upward curve globally and represents a huge opportunity for Ireland at many levels.  “Sports Tourism is huge business and it’s getting bigger and bigger.  Research has shown that sports tourist spend double the amount that traditional tourists do and this is a huge opportunity for Government at national and local level, as well as sports organisations, to capitalize on.
“Ireland has always had a fantastic tourism product but if we have an edge anywhere it’s in Sport Tourism.  We have fantastic natural infrastructure and a vastly improved developed infrastructure.  A key point also is that while our temperate climate might challenge the traditional tourist from time to time, it is ideal for sports tourism events.”
Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes said that developing a major Sport Tourism strategy must be a priority for Ireland going forward:  “As an airport we see first-hand the value of sports tourism.  Huge numbers of golfers, for instance, come through Shannon each year to play in courses across the country.  Latest statistics show that 150,000 plus golfers come to Ireland each year, generating up to €200m for the economy.  
“Golf is an obvious example but there are several other sports, such as mass participation cycling events, triathlons, hill-walking events and tournaments led by local sports organisations that can attract big numbers.  Every region and county in the country, with the right know-how, is capable of hosting these type of events.  What we need to do is develop a clear strategy for this and the European Sports Summit will set the ball rolling in that regard.”
Facts of Sport Tourism

  • 35% of domestic tourism in Ireland is attributable to sport
  • Over 30 different sports are participated in Ireland each year
  • The Emerald Isle Classic American Football match at the Aviva Stadium in 2012 was worth an estimated €100m alone to the economy
  • In the UK, the average football fan visiting for matches spends £785 during his/her short trip
  • Around 1.3 million tourists went to a live sports event in the UK in 2011, spending a total of £1.1 billion.
  • Almost 40,000 jobs supported by sport in Ireland

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