Business Irish

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ireland underachieving in the lucrative sport tourism sector despite scooping 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup

Published 14/05/2015 | 18:52

Ireland has been ranked 60th in the world in terms of attracting major global sport events over the past six years, it has emerged.

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Despite the country being named as hosts of the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, it was revealed we are underachieving in the lucrative sport tourism sector.

Experts and key figures in the industry attended the a one day summit in Limerick's Thomand Park Stadium, where the establishment of an agency to devise a ten-year strategy and head-up bidding for major global events was mooted.

Sport Tourism is estimated to be worth €450bn globally and growing at a rate of 14pc per annum, compared to wider tourism growth of 5pc. It is believed events could generate €800m in revenue a year for the country by 2023.

Former Irish international rugby player Keith Wood, director of W2 Consulting which organised the Shannon Airport European Sport Tourism Summit, said that the message from the event is that Ireland is at the start of something great.

“A lot has been achieved in Ireland already. There is a growing number of very successful, organic events here but we are now only beginning to look at the bigger events,” he said.

“The first thing you need is the ambition and Ireland definitely has that and I really believe that once we get the bit between our teeth in this country, we will get there.”

One of the world’s leading experts on sport market intelligence, Mike Laflin of Sportcal, was joined on the podium by Commonwealth Games CEO David Grevemberg, Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills, Director of Major Events and International Relations at UK Sport Simon Morton, and Paul Smith, Head of City Delivery for England 2015 Rugby World Cup.

“There is no question about Ireland’s potential in sport tourism but at the moment it is not really registering at an international level,” said Laflin.

“The irony is that Ireland is one of the world’s most passionate sporting nations, has excellent infrastructure and is incredibly good at hospitality yet it is underachieving.

“If Ireland got everything in line, you would see it jump up the global rankings very quickly by landing major international events.

"The reality is that governing bodies would want to bring events here because they know participants and fans of the respective sports would have a fantastic experience.

“If Ireland is to tap into its enormous potential, however, it needs to have a dedicated Government agency working on it. Failte Ireland is doing fantastic work at the moment but it is about much more than tourism.”

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