[cleeng_content id="411905026" description="99 cents or 10,000 hours. Become an expert for less than a dollar. We do the hard work so you don't have to." price="0.99" referral="0.1"]There has been a distinct trend over the last few years, for the sport of sailing to be ‘propped up’ by investment from tourism budgets. This is true at an event level and a team level.
The pitch is simple. Hosting a world class event will put your town, city, region or country ‘on the map’, show that you can run a top sporting event and deliver economic returns through increased hotel occupancy and visitor spending.
Such promises are activated with different levels of enthusiasm. The part about having a host city broadcast around the world is easy enough. Actually getting people to book plane tickets and hotel rooms is a bit harder.
This week in London, tens of thousands of travel professionals will visit World Travel Market (WTM). According to the WTM 2011 Industry Report, sports tourism has a growing role, but paradoxically major events don’t have a lot of impact on the decisions of travel consumers with 81% of UK holiday makers saying that the Olympics and Football World Cup does not make them any more likely to visit Brazil.
Despite the importance to sailing of partnerships between destinations and events, the sport was invisible at the travel trade show. More worrying is the lack of awareness of destination officials and marketing personnel about events.
A straw poll of representatives from cities and countries investing in sailing showed that some venues need to do a bit more integration to realise any tourism benefit from hosting events like the Volvo Ocean Race or America’s Cup World Series.
The China stand did not have any representatives from Sanya. The New England stand did not have any representatives from Newport or Rhode Island. People promoting Miami suggested we look online for information as did smiling PR people from Oman Air. Abu Dhabi gave us a USB stick which ‘would contain any relevant press releases’.
The only mention we could find anywhere of sailing was a brochure produced to promote Lake Garda which included a list of 2011 sailing events.
It would be naive to think that sailing is important enough to warrant a large presence at a show like WTM. You would hardly know that London was hosting the Olympics in 2012 given the lack of visibility at the UK stands. However if the tourism part of the investment is to be delivered, then there needs to be a little bit more joined up thinking.
The Monsoon Cup is one event where tourism is a driver for government investment. We didn’t get to the Malaysia stand at WTM, but local tourism authorities are concious of the relationship between the event and promoting Terengganu.
Organisations like the Malaysian Budget Hotel Association (MBHA), Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agents (Matta), Terengganu Tourism Association(TTA), Terengganu Travel Guides Association (TTGA) and Tourism Malaysia compete in a special regatta – the MOTOUR Tourism Cup.
Mazshida Ruslal, Deputy Director of the Tourism Ministry Terengganu Office said:
The competition is very important for every tourism industry player as each and everyone of us need to know as much as possible about sailing and match racing so we can better sell the sport and event to tourists. We have to be familiar with the product if we expect to sell it to potential visitors and there is no better way to learn about the Monsoon Cup than going out sailing and racing on its Foundation-36 boats.”
WTM clashes with the build up for the America’s Cup World Series event in San Diego. It’s probably too late to get international tourists to San Diego, but Joe Timko, Director of Public Relations, for San Diego CVB is focussing closer to home. He said:
Our efforts will target western US markets and include public relations, online promotions, a video travelogue on our YouTube channel, display advertising on the Google Network, blogs and additional content on our website. As mentioned, this supplements the work of NST and the America’s Cup organizers who had radio and TV buys, etc. in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets.
The only sports to have visible presence at WTM were Football (soccer) and Formula 1.