A PUSH to make Ireland a leading international sports tourism destination will be made at a global summit to be held this spring.
The Sport Tourism summit in Thomond Park, Limerick, this May will involve international experts discussing how Irish cities and communities can get a slice of the €450bn industry.
Organised by W2 Consulting, the Shannon Airport-sponsored event, which has Independent Newspapers as its media partner, will be attended by more than 400 delegates.
W2 Consulting director and former rugby star Keith Wood said that sports tourism represents a huge opportunity for Ireland. "Sports tourism is huge business and it's getting bigger and bigger," he said.
Shannon Group chairman Rose Hynes said that developing a major sports tourism strategy must be a priority for Ireland.
"As an airport we see first-hand the value of sports tourism.
"Huge numbers of golfers, for instance, come through Shannon each year."
Latest statistics show that 150,000-plus golfers come to Ireland each year, generating up to €200m.
"There are several other sports, such as mass-participation cycling events, triathlons, hill-walking and tournaments led by local sports organisations that can attract big numbers," Ms Hynes added.
Speakers from the Rugby World Cup and Premier League clubs will attend the conference which will be staged annually in Limerick.