An Analysis of Sport Event Tourism Research: Trends, Issues and Future Directions

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sport tourism as a distinct line of research has evolved considerably in the past two decades. Textbooks, academic conferences, undergraduate and graduate degree programmes, and a scientific journal, Journal of Sport and Tourism, now exist. This article examines the current body of research devoted to one segment of sport tourism, event based sport tourism and identifies patterns of sport tourist behaviors, research issues, and future areas for research. Research focus areas covered include event economic impacts, serious sport tourists, prestige-worthy sport tourism, residents' perceptions of events, and watching friends and relatives (WFRs). It is intended that through this analysis and knowledge sharing, the evolution of sport tourism studies may continue to prosper for the next twenty years.

A number of operational definitions pertinent to sport tourism are provided before proceeding farther. In the interest of length and to avoid redundancy, the dilemma of the tourist definition will not be debated, though the discrepancy centers on length of stay, distance travelled, and trip purpose. For this article, a tourist is defined as a visitor for at least one night but not more than six months and whose main purpose of visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited. Similarly, what is and is not sport will not be argued in this article e.g. Is Greco-Roman wrestling a sport and arm-wrestling not? Horseracing vs. rodeo? Pairs ice dancing vs. ballroom dancing? Sport involves physical activity, competition, agreed upon rules of performance, and is considered sport by its participants.

Sport tourism is simply defined as travel to a destination to experience sport. Sport tourists are visitors to a destination for the purpose of participating, viewing, or celebrating sport (Turco, Riley, and Swart, 2002). Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) are a tourist market segment referring to nonresidents in the host community whose primary motive is to visit friends and or relatives. In sport tourism, watching friends and relatives (WFRs) are VFRs with associates participating in a sport event.

The sport tourism industry is the collection of businesses, institutions, resources, and people servicing sport tourists. They include tourists, host residents, and goods and services providers in broad tourism categories of transportation, accommodations (i.e., hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and eating and drinking places), and shopping. Sport serves as the focal or secondary attraction. Natural resources form the bases for the sport tourism system. The natural environment may add to the challenge and allure of the sport tourism attraction. The sandstone rock formations in Moab, Utah have made it the mountain biking mecca, and the rarified air and mountainous terrain of the Leadville 100 Ultra marathon in Colorado signifies that the event is not for the weak of heart. Many participatory and event based sport tourism experiences occur in natural resource settings: fishing, nautical, marine, and aquatic sports are enjoyed on water; climbing, snowboarding, skiing on mountains; and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and hunting in forests and fields. The demand for and finite supply of natural environments for sport presents challenges to sport and destination managers and is growing area of research investigation. Tourism's infrastructure of transportation, communication, accommodations, attractions are built upon the natural resources. Government regulations i.e., immigration and travel requirements, security policies, trade, tariffs, currency values, and international relations influence the tourism supply and demand.

Three primary types of sport tourist types have been indentified: Participatory, event-based, and celebratory sport tourists. Participatory sport tourists travel to destinations to play sport. They may include golfers playing a round at Royal St. …