City set to capitalise on 'Davos' of sports industry
Limerick City is set to play host to the 'Davos' of the sports industry this summer. Up to 400 sports industry experts from local authorities, sports bodies, federations, clubs, and charity organisations will attend the inaugural European Sport Tourism Summit at Thomond Park, Limerick, on May 15.
The global sport tourism industry is worth an estimated €450bn annually. And countries across the globe are eager to attract global sports events and tournaments or develop their own major sports tourism to cash in on this valuable sector.
Announcing the summit, W2 consulting director Keith Wood said that the sport tourism industry was on a steep upward curve globally and represented a huge opportunity for Ireland.
"Research has shown that sports tourists spend twice as much as traditional tourists 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 sports 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," Wood added.
Delegates attending the event will learn how Ireland can attract major global sports events and how local organisations can develop their own successful sports tourism product, capable of attracting millions in revenue, to a region.
The key speakers 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.
Among the list of high-profile international experts giving their insights at the event will be speakers from the Rugby World Cup, the new European 2015 Olympics, Premier League clubs and one of the world's most successful sports tourism organisations, the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.
The event is being organised by W2 Consulting and Shannon Airport, and Independent newspapers will act at the media partner.
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 sports tourism destinations. Former England and Lions star Lawrence Dallaglio, 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.