Keith Wood, founder of W2 Consulting and organiser of the Shannon Airport sponsored European Sport Tourism Summit with airport chairman Rose Hynes.
Cities and regions will learn how they can increase their share of the growing €450bn global sport tourism industry in a major think-tank with international experts here in May.
The European Sport Tourism Summit, which will take place at Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick on Thursday May 15th, will also deliver recommendations that will be presented to Government regarding how Ireland can increase its share of the fastest growing sector in the global travel industry.
Organised by W2 Consulting, the Shannon Airport sponsored event will be attended by over delegates drawn from local authorities, sports bodies, federations, clubs, charity organisations and communities here and abroad eager to attract global sports events and tournaments or develop their own major sports tourism product around mass participation events.
Announcing the summit, W2 Consulting director, co-founder and former Irish and Lions star Keith Wood said that the sport tourism industry is on a steep upward curve globally and represents a huge opportunity for Ireland at many levels. “Sports tourism is huge business and it’s getting bigger and bigger. Research has shown that sports tourist spend double the amount that traditional tourists do and this is a huge opportunity for Government at national and local level, as well as sports organisations, to capitalise on.
“Ireland has always had a fantastic tourism product but if we have an edge anywhere it’s in sport tourism. We have fantastic natural infrastructure and a vastly improved developed infrastructure. A key point also is that while our temperate climate might challenge the traditional tourist from time to time, it is ideal for sports tourism events.”
Among the list of high profile international experts giving their insights at the event will be Martin Snedden, CEO of New Zealand 2011 Rugby World Cup, who will look specifically at what Ireland need to do to secure and benefit from the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Other speakers include Neil Carney, Director of Venue Management, Baku European Games 2015; Julian Jenkins, commercial director of Cardiff City FC and Rick Traer, CEO, Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, one of the world’s most successful sports tourism organisation.
Delegates will also hear from Sarah Harvey, MD of Tough Mudder Europe, the largest adventure race brand in the world and Patrick Torrent, who has been instrumental in developing Barcelona and the wider Catalonia region into one of the world’s leading sport tourism destinations. Former England and Lions star Lawrence Dallaligo, who has led some of the UK’s highest profile charity fundraisers, is also among the list of high-profile speakers.
Shannon Group chairman, Rose Hynes, a former Munster and Connacht squash interprovincial player, said that developing a major sport tourism strategy must be a priority for Ireland going forward: “As an airport we see first-hand the value of sports tourism. Huge numbers of golfers, for instance, come through Shannon each year to play in courses across the country. Latest statistics show that 150,000 plus golfers come to Ireland each year, generating up to €200m for the economy.
“Golf is an obvious example but there are several other sports, such as mass participation cycling events, triathlons, hill-walking events and tournaments led by local sports organisations that can attract big numbers. Every region and county in the country, with the right know-how, is capable of hosting these type of events. What we need to do is develop a clear strategy for this and the European Sports Summit will set the ball rolling in that regard.”