Saturday 10 December 2016

Major sporting events could generate €800m a year

Published 14/05/2015 | 02:30

Keith Wood and Mark O’Connell (right), organisers of the sports tourism summit, with Andrew Murphy of the Shannon Group
Keith Wood and Mark O’Connell (right), organisers of the sports tourism summit, with Andrew Murphy of the Shannon Group

Sports tourism events could generate €800m in revenue a year for the country by 2023 according to one of the organisers of the Sports Tourism European Summit, Mark O'Connell.

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Speaking to the Irish Independent as the summit begins today in Limerick's Thomand Park Stadium, Mr O'Connell said securing major sporting events remains a significantly untapped potential for Ireland.

He said that Ireland has already established a credibility factor with international sports bodies for organising major events such as the Special Olympics and the Ryder Cup.

But Mr O'Connell said that the ability to raise resources at a government level to fund such events remains an obstacle.

"It may be that some form of public-private partnership could be used in the future," he suggested, as a means for funding large-scale events.

He said that while Ireland isn't in a position to attract most so-called mega events such as the Olympics, it would be a reasonable goal to attract other major sporting events such as World Cycling Championships.

However, one mega event that Ireland is vying to host is the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

That could attract up to 350,000 visitors and generate up to €800m in revenue and bolster thousands of jobs, according to Mr O'Connell. He said the legacy would be felt for years afterwards.

This week's summit, sponsored by firms including Shannon Airport and Independent News & Media, also incorporates the inaugural European Sport Tourism Awards. They will recognise and reward innovation and achievement in sport tourism across Europe.

The Irish Independent is sponsoring the Sport Tourism Sponsorship of the Year award. It will be awarded to a brand that has demonstrated best practice and innovation in its approach to sponsorship of a sport tourism event.

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