Will we finally turn sports tourism from potential to a resource?

first_imgThat in sports tourism there is an opportunity and a cure for the seasonality of our tourism, ie a way to fill it  before and after the season we have known for years, which otherwise annually records a growth rate of as much as 14% in the world, and the best proof of this thesis is the announced sporting event in Umag.Thus, in Umag from 29.6. to 8.7. this year psaid 3000 participants, primarily athletes, delegates, judges and their companions from more than 100 countries to spend 18 to 20 nights at Blue Lagoon facilities during a series of World Karate Federation (WKF) events organized by Uniline as the official travel agency and WKF partner and the Croatian Karate Federation in this project.”We are proud to be a partner of WKF and the Croatian Karate Federation in Umag for the fifth year in a row. In terms of the number of participants and overnight stays, this is, after the EURO 2018 handball championship, the second largest sporting event in Croatia this year. ”, said Goran Sprem, executive director of Uniline for sports and corporate tourism.By organizing the European Handball Championship EURO 2018 in Zagreb and this year’s karate event in Umag and many others, Uniline, a leading Croatian tour operator, which is the official agency of a number of Croatian sports federations and clubs, has confirmed its position as a market leader in sports tourism.For decades we have been talking about the potential of sports tourism, how we have a favorable climate, we have accommodation facilities, an excellent tourist product, but we are falling on investment and infrastructure development, synergy and a complete tourist product. Sprem confirms this thesis and points out that he agrees that we have all the prerequisites, but that the biggest problem is the sports infrastructure. “What we lack is the development and investment in sports infrastructure, and the organization of more complex ones  sporting events where various Sports Federations should learn a little more at risk i.e. be more proactive. On the other hand, where there is interest, there is also initiative. Thus, cities are increasingly seeing sport as a direction that brings a huge increase in the number of overnight stays outside the tourist season. The example of Umag and this event, which generated about 20.000 overnight stays, is the best example. Also, this is an excellent indicator of synergy and cooperation between the city of Umag, the karate federation, the Blue Lagoon and Uniline.”Emphasizes Šprem and adds that sports tourism as one of the optimal forms of year-round business can significantly contribute to further diversification and sustainability of Croatian tourism.At Uniline, they have set themselves the goal of becoming “one stop sport travel company” active on a 24/7 basis, ie available to clients every day and at any time. ” We see the future of this business in the systematic and continuous expansion of services and the creation of new business models in which we seek rational and cost-effective solutions for athletes, federations and clubs and their fans and guests through our specific know-how we have developed – from organizing sports development camps for all ages to the sports preparatory part and, if necessary, preparatory and competitive segments with accompanying services”Šprem points out and concludes that Uniline decided to specialize in sports tourism 6-7 years ago, which is absolutely proving to be a good direction of development.Three important lessons We can draw three important conclusions from this story. The first mentioned in the introduction is the huge potential of sports tourism, which with its three components – tourism of sporting events, tourism of sports memories and active sports tourism and an annual volume of 660 to 700 billion dollars, which participates with 14% in the world tourism cake, experts predict dynamic growth in the next ten years.The second lesson is the direction of travel agency development. Certainly, the basic sale of accommodation is no longer in trend or enough when we talk about the work of travel agencies. The focus is on selling experiences and tourist content, as well as specialization and development of niche skills for special projects, such as Uniline started specialization as a “one stop travel company”.And the last lesson, albeit the most important, is that the whole story doesn’t revolve around major sports, such as football and big clubs. In fact, there is much greater potential in “small” sports. Of course, not everyone can attract the most famous football clubs in the world, and if we succeed, it’s just icing on the cake and added value, but the base must be all other sports. Who would have thought that karate would generate through one event to generate 20.000 overnight stays. But the management has the greatest potential here – in the development of various camps and preparations for all sports and events, to dream of some big clubs, but first let’s arrange and position a sustainable base. Here is just another plastic example… There are currently over 50 million runners in Europe and the number of runners is growing day by day. We are talking about amateurs, not professionals, who run marathons, and most often they are business people who generate over 9 billion Euros of revenue each year to hotels, carriers and race organizers.Also, we are prone to large numbers, but 100 or 500 nights is a great number in August. Of course we have to have more smaller events, actually make the best mix of small, medium and a couple big in the destination, to round out the whole story. Yes, it is necessary to invest money and time, but this is the first prerequisite if we talk about strategic positioning in the development of sports tourism.Will we finally turn sports tourism from potential to a resource?Sports tourism is much more than all of the above, and I only touched on the tip of the iceberg and a couple of key segments. It’s all up to us, the competition is not sleeping, in fact, while we are talking about potentials, others have turned sports tourism into excellent resources and reaping a large part of the cake, while we have “started” just taking crumbs. Let’s wake up, we are already ten years late from the competition, and if we want we must move boldly, decisively and proactively forward towards the market and strategic development of sports tourism.last_img