Ireland has the capacity to deliver one of the best ever Rugby World Cup tournaments, if its bid for the 2023 tournament is successful - one of the world’s leading sports officials has stated.
peaking ahead of his arrival to Ireland this week to address the Shannon Airport European Sport Tourism Summit, which takes place in Thomond Park on Thursday and Friday, CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation David Grevemberg said that Ireland has a “fantastic offering” when it comes to staging major sports events.
Mr Grevemberg was CEO of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games before going on to take up the role as CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation itself and said that from his experience with the Glasgow bid, the starting point for Ireland must be to clearly define itself and that this definition must be authentic, sincere and be central in its application.
“As was found in Glasgow, it’s essential when you bid for any major sporting event that you start by examining what it is you are, what makes you different and then be able to articulate that in a compelling narrative. Also, you must get the public behind the bid. With the Glasgow bid, for example, out of a Scottish population of five million people approximately one million officially endorsed it through putting up posters in shops and other engagements. That sends a huge message to the event owner you are bidding to.
“The advantage Ireland has is that it very much has a real sense of self-identity, which is central in Irish culture. This is something that decision makers want to hear and understand. They need to be satisfied that people travelling to an event will have an enriched experience, beyond the field-of-play, which I think Ireland can pretty much guarantee.
“All round, Ireland really has a fantastic offering. It has the hospitality, warmth, passion and a great history. It is a nation that is used to rolling up its sleeves, working hard and making things happen but also enjoying yourselves as you go about it. Ireland is ideal for using sport to drive prosperity.”
The New Orleans, Louisiana born sports aficionado said that the Rugby World Cup, which would be worth an estimated €800 to the economy, would very much be a ‘two way street’ if it comes to Ireland. “When you bid for such an event you have to illustrate not just what Ireland could do for the event but also what the event could do for Ireland and what the Rugby World Cup/Ireland partnership can do for others.
“From an Irish perspective the benefits could be enormous. There would, of course, be an unrivalled sport tourism injection but the event has the potential to have a longer, regenerative effect if positioned appropriately, similar to what was experienced with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“Tourism is one aspect but you also have the opportunity to build community cohesion, citizen engagement and empowerment, while underpinning the world-renowned Irish pride with a strong sense of confidence in delivering such a world class event . I really feel that Ireland has some natural ingredients that can drive a new and different conversation on sport tourism. And if it is successful in its bid to host the Rugby World Cup, I’m confident that it will put on an event that few could rival.”
The Shannon Airport European Sport Tourism Summit is one of the leading annual global think-tanks for the sport tourism sector – the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, currently expanding at a rate of 14% per annum compared to the healthy growth of 5% in traditional tourism.
In addition to Grevemberg, a range of other international experts - including leading figures from the organisation teams of the Rugby World Cup 2015, the Ryder Cup Gleneagles 2014 and the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014 - will deliver key insights into what it takes to attract, develop and grow successful Sport Tourism attractions, from major international tournaments to organically grown mass participation events.
The two-day event will also include the inaugural Shannon Group European Sport Tourism Awards on Thursday night.