The fact that sports tourism is a booming industry in the U.S. – well, it’s not exactly a news bulletin. But here’s an additional trivia point: it’s a worldwide phenomenon.
The global sports tourism industry is estimated at $600 billion. And a recent study released by Expedia New Zealand (Expedia.co.nz) found that more than one in four New Zealanders – 28 percent -- are planning to travel overseas to the host cities of major international sporting events in the next 12 to 24 months. These events include the Rugby World Cup underway in England right now, and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. Other popular events for Kiwis in the coming year include the Monaco Grand Prix, Wimbledon and The Australian Open.
"There are some really exciting sporting events coming up over the next year, both locally and internationally, and for a nation that is so devoted to its sport, there’s nothing quite like watching the action live,” said Expedia.co.nz Travel Expert Kelly Cull. “A major sporting event is a great excuse to make the most of an overseas holiday and explore new destinations."
Buoyed by revenue from traveling fans, many sports teams in the U.S. are beginning to offer travel packages that include sports tickets, lodging, food and transportation. Airlines are getting a piece of the action by catering to sports fans, as well. Some carriers, including Southwest Airlines Co., AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and JetBlue Airways Corp., have added special flights for some championship games.
Some studies have found that between 10 and 15 percent of fans at regular-season professional sports events are visitors from out of town, according to Lisa Delpy Neirotti, associate professor of tourism and sport management at George Washington University's business school. The same study found that about 27 percent of all travel expenditures today are trips that involve some sports—from golf games and skiing to kids' soccer tournaments to major attractions like the Super Bowls and the Olympics.