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Sports tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world because it involves individuals traveling in order to either observe of participate in sporting events. These individuals end up in a situation where they observe sports from outside their normal environment. Sports tourism, because of its rapid growth, has come to be put into different categories with the aim of ensuring that it is better studied. These include the following; hard and soft sport tourism, sports event tourism, active sport tourism, and nostalgia sports tourism. This paper seeks to develop an understanding of sports tourism connected to football in Britain through the perspectives of event, nostalgia, and active sport tourism.
Hard and soft sport tourism
Hard sport tourism refers to events that attract a large number of people who seek to watch competitive sports events. Among these are the Olympics, and the World Cup, which are some of the most famous sporting events in the world. Soft sport tourism, on the other hand, involves tourists signing up to take part in recreational sports or leisure sporting activities. Such sports as hiking and skiing can be described as soft sport tourism because these sports do not have the same competitive aspects as do others such as football (Higham and Hinch, 2002). Golf is one of the most common forms of soft sports tourism because it involves individuals who would like to play the sport in different golf courses in the world. These individuals seek to undertake the challenges that the unique golf courses have to offer, ensuring that they play in some of the highest ranked courses in the world. This is especially true of golf enthusiasts in the United States and Europe, who often enjoy checking off those golfing destinations that they have already visited.
Sport events tourism
Sport events tourism involves visitors who go to a destination in order to watch sporting events, with the most popular being the World Cup and the Olympics (Chalip and Costa, 2005). The latter are events that take place once every four years and because of their occurrence in different cities across the world, they are quite attractive to sports tourists. In countries such as the United States, there tends to be a focus on those sporting events that take place annually, such as the National Football League’s Super Bowl, which is held in different cities every year. A consequence of the rapid growth of the sport events tourism industry is that a considerable number of countries and cities seek to ensure that they become active participants through developing sporting events that will attract large numbers of tourists.
Sport events tourism is often based on appeal and this is especially the case with football fans that often travel to Britain in order to watch the main events of their favourite clubs (Deery et al., 2004). The screening of football events on television is one of the reasons why individuals end up following the English Premier League, and adopt teams. A result of this situation is that fans take the time to travel from all over the world so that they can experience their clubs’ games live. In addition, the large number of flight routes to Britain ensures that fans are able to travel easily to their favourite sporting destinations (Hognestad, 2006). British football is among the best in the world when compared to local leagues, whose standards tend to be much lower. A consequence is that a large number of individuals from all over the world follow British football because they feel that it gives them more sporting value than their local leagues. These individuals end up being encouraged to visit Britain to support their adopted clubs, especially during major tournaments or games, when they feel that it is important that they are present. Furthermore, Britain is a nice country to visit because it has some of the best tourist packages tailored to suit the needs of all the tourists that come specifically for sporting events. The large number of football tourists who come to Britain to attend their adopted club’s major games means that this country has ended up specializing at receiving these individuals and making them feel as comfortable as possible (Nash, 2000). The result is that more of such tourists choose to come to Britain not only for the games, but also to experience the friendly services that are provided by the hospitality sector.
Football events in Britain have become so popular that in recent years, there has been an increase in the demand for tickets by foreign fans. A result has been that some of these individuals, because of the high demand, have ended up buying tickets from season ticket holders, with some of the latter choosing to sell their tickets every week. The appeal of these events has led to an increase in ticket prices over the years to such an extent that local football fans have found themselves at a disadvantage (Hognestad, 2012). The higher ticket prices because of the demand from football tourists has reduced the number of local fans who attend major football events in Britain to such an extent that there has been an appeal to ensure that ticket prices are reduced to accommodate local demand. However, despite this setback for local fans, it has become the norm for football tourist to help fill British stadiums to almost full capacity. This is a positive outcome because it has ensured that clubs end up having an increase in revenue. In addition, sport tourists have also had an opportunity to ensure that they experience their favorite clubs on the field. This has created a situation where it has become fashionable for dedicated fans of the various clubs playing on the English Premier League to seek to attend events at least once or several times during their lifetime. The appeal has encouraged fans to make sure that they are able to see their favourite events in person rather than viewing them on television (Hognestad, 2012). It has also led to a considerable increase of sport tourism to Britain because fans of local clubs from all over the world are increasingly willing and are capable of travelling to major events involving their favourite clubs.
Nostalgia sport tourism
Nostalgia sports tourism involves individuals taking time to visit the sports halls of fame of their favourite sports. In addition, they also get to visit venues and meet sports personalities in such a way that gives them a first-hand experience in connecting them with their favourite sports. These visits tend to take place on a vacation basis, and they are often a part of the personal vacations individuals undertake rather than actually only seeking to visit sports venues alone (Higham and Hinch, 2002). This form of tourism often involves individuals seeking to be close to venues and items that are connected with the greatest moments of their favourite sports, or clubs’ history. Thus, fans of Manchester United football club might end up seeking to visit the venues that host the club’s trophies as well as its home stadium because of the sentimental or nostalgic attachment to them.
Dedicated fans of British football clubs tend to know a lot about their history, and the reasons behind their success. A result is that these individuals often seek to ensure that they experience their adopted clubs’ history for nostalgic purposes in addition to being in the presence of items and venues that are connected to the history. This is one of the reasons why tourism among football fans who desire to visit different football events, and venues connected to club history have become so popular in recent years (Nash, 2000). Clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal are among the most popular among tourists, who often seek to imbibe their club histories and to confirm their connection to them. It is also because of their attractiveness that it has become possible for an increase in the number of tourists to increase in recent years, to such an extent that there has not only been an increase in revenue, but also growth in the local tourism sector (Szymanski, 1998). However, because of nostalgia sports tourism connected to football clubs, it has become an issue of concern among clubs and their local stakeholders to ensure that there is a balance between their local and international fans. This is especially considering that club histories were developed through the support of local fans, and it was only after the airing of matches on television that clubs became popular with an international fan base (Edensor and Millington, 2008). This concern has led to a situation where there have been appeals to ensure that ticket prices are reduced so that local fans can also have an opportunity to support their favorite clubs. Nostalgic tourists tend to be those that seek to ensure that they connect with the roots of their clubs in such a way that they seek to view trophies and view those places that they find most appealing in connection with these clubs.
However, most tourists who visit for nostalgic purposes are often individuals that are not interested in attending games. Instead, they prefer visiting the venues where their adopted clubs have had their most memorable moments. They also seek to meet their favourite personalities connected with the clubs, meaning that they do not have a negative effect on the overall balance of ticketing between local and international fans (Ramshaw and Gammon, 2005). Even those individuals who are not directly connected to or are not fans of British football clubs seeks to ensure that they are connected with the glory that comes with visiting sites associated with these clubs. A result is that a considerable number of tourists go to Britain in order to advance their knowledge concerning clubs while bat the same time seeking to prove to their peers back home that they have visited historical sporting sites and events. Manchester United has been able to achieve a global allure for fans and it has managed to do so through the advancement of its image as not only one of the most successful clubs in England, but also as one of its richest (Reimer, 2004). The achievement of this goal has been fundamental in making sure that there is a constant flow of tourists to Old Trafford. These individuals often visit this place because they would like to know about the club history. In addition, these individuals, who are often long-term fans of the club, often want to visit those places associated with the club and its greatest victories. Therefore, Old Trafford is one of the premier destinations for United fans who seek to ensure that they achieve a level of connection with this famous place that they will cherish for the rest of their lives (Reimer, 2004). Furthermore, some clubs that have suffered considerable decline over the years still manage to attract large numbers of tourists who come to visit for nostalgic reasons. Their dedication to their respective clubs goes beyond the defeats incurred, and is instead connected to the way that the clubs play in addition to their history. A considerable number of clubs continue to exert a magnetic emotional pull that attracts a large number of both domestic and international fans to such an extent that many of these individuals end up dedicating time and money to ensure that they experience visiting their favourite clubs. The also seek to be near stadia that have for a long time evoked considerable emotions among them as they are watching matches on television.
Active sport tourism
Active sport tourism refers to those individuals who seek to participate in different sorting events. These individuals travel from all over the world in order to experience specific sporting events in those venues where they are being held (Francis and Murphy, 2005). A consequence is that these individuals end up having personal experience of the different sports available at the time. For example, individuals might choose to participate in the various marathons that are held in different cities all over the world not only because of the competitive nature of these sports, but also for prestige, since they will have participated in prestigious tournaments. There are also instances when tourists take an active part in the events around a sport by joining other fans to cheer on their favorite teams on the field. This is especially the case with English football where individuals from all over the world come to attend matches.
Fans of various clubs in the English Premier League often dream of attending matches of their favourite clubs. This dream leads to a significant number of them saving up and travelling to Britain in order to make their dreams come true (Williams, 2006). The most significant period when fans come in large numbers to attend matches tend to be during major events such as the FA Cup among others. The result is that it has led to controversy because a large number of locals who would like to attend such matches in support of their clubs are not able to do so because of a hike in ticket prices. Foreign fans are often willing to spend more than their local counterparts on tickets meaning that they have an advantage over the latter (Gibson, 1998). The creation of avenues through which foreign fans can continue to spend their money on tickets while at the same time allowing for the advancement of the interests of local fans would be ideal in making sure that English football clubs satisfies all its fans. During periods where there are international matches in England, such as the UEFA Champions League, there are instances where foreign fans might come through to support their teams. The active support that they provide their teams in the stadium might sometimes end up creating a situation where nationalist feelings are evoked, creating a potential for violence. Therefore, while active sport tourism is very positive in most cases, there are instances where these tourists end up creating inconveniences for locals, as seen above in the case of ticketing as well as hooliganism. Football is the most popular game in the world, and it is only natural for fans to want to visit the places where their favorite clubs are located so that they can experience the environment and create memories as a result.
We can do it today.
Sport tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and it encompasses the diverse sporting interests of fans all over the world. The discussion above has shown that individuals from all over the world undertake to make tours of their favourite sporting venues for a diverse number of reasons. Among these is to attend major sporting events, for reasons of nostalgia, as well as to either participate in the sport or cheer on their respective teams. The example of football in England has been used to demonstrate the diverse aspects of sports tourism, and to show the successes and controversies that have been brought about by the ever-increasing sports tourism to Britain. As it continues to grow the sports tourism industry needs to be studied in order to find out its prospects for the future as well as to ensure that while it benefits local economies, the interests of local fans are also protected.
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