Sports tourism is a $6.8 billion industry in Canada, and leaders have no timeline or process in place for when and how events might return.
That’s the backdrop against which the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) recently formed the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. The task force includes representatives from all stakeholders, including destinations, national/multi-sport organizations, facilities and suppliers to the industry. The group will work toward establishing and sharing guidelines and recommendations specific to sport tourism to demonstrate to all levels of government that there is a clear plan to re-open the industry, according to the CSTA, which notes that sports tourism emerged as a key factor in recovery plans following other major crises (including 9/11 and the 2003 SARS outbreak).
“Sport tourism serves as a significant economic driver at the community level, particularly with small businesses that depend heavily on the traffic generated by sport events,” Rick Traer, CSTA’s chief executive officer, said in astatement.“The recovery of our industry will be directly related to our ability to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment at over 200,000 sport events that occur in communities across Canada annually.”
Two surveys conducted by the CSTA in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic revealedthat approximately one-third of all sport tourism professionals in Canada were laid off, and a small percentage of sports organizations ceased operations.
Here some of the major objectives of the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force:
- To access the best and most relevant information, data and intelligence available on COVID-19 in Canada and globally specific to sport tourism and sports event hosting.
- To provide ongoing assessment of the health of sport tourism and related sectors in Canada to determine what may be required to be event-ready once mass gatherings can occur.
- To provide advice, support and guidance to all CSTA members and all sport tourism industry stakeholders that enable readiness when sport events can once again be hosted in their communities.
- To develop policy positions and recommendations for and by the sport tourism segment to inform all levels of government.
- To provide channels for the sport tourism segment to access relevant funding and programs from all levels of government.
- To develop best practices that can be shared and adapted for application by host cities, rights holders and other sport tourism industry sectors.
- To develop a sport tourism recovery strategy and actions that can be adopted by CSTA members and stakeholder groups in the sport tourism segment.
- To conclude operations once sport tourism has advanced from the recovery phase to the resiliency phase.
The task force counts 22 members, and Grant MacDonald, former CSTA president, will serve as chair of the group.