By Eugene Nizeyimana, Founder and CEO of the African Chamber of Commerce
Among the various ways to develop an economy, sport and tourism are major contributors to social and economic development in most countries. There are many types of tourism opportunities that countries are investing in to propel and initiate development strategies. One of these types of tourism is sports tourism. Sport and tourism have a major socio-economic impact, are valued in most civil societies and are increasingly recognized by governments and the global business community.
Sports tourism is, and has been over the past decade, one of the growing sectors of tourism worldwide. Sporting events attract tourists, attendance and support business communities in many forms, where host communities exhibit and showcase local culture and talent in various forms to distinguish themselves and provide authentic local experiences.
Major sporting events such as the Olympics, World Cups and Commonwealth Games have been a driving force for the development of tourism in many countries and have contributed to destination branding, infrastructure development and other economic and social benefits. Research reveals that there are opportunities for sports to be leveraged for the promotion of national tourism and culture to drive business and economic growth activities.
Sports tourism and the African continent
People from diverse professional backgrounds, athletes, sports leaders, businesses, authorities, game officials, media, creative entrepreneurs, innovators and audiences, are drawn to host cities as a result of these events sportsmen. Their support stimulates travel, hospitality and the night economy as well as the provision of extended support services and entertainment. The activities associated with such events create huge opportunities for tourism and related industries. A good example in Africa is the 1995 World Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham was a golden opportunity and a unique moment to strengthen existing relationships between the UK and Africa, open new bonds and build a legacy. The event unlocked multiple opportunities to boost and increase regional trade connectivity (particularly the Midlands), relationships and strengthen economic ties, and boost trade and investment. Also, accelerated cross-border innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, initiatives such as the African Business Chamber (AfBC) Midlands – Africa Business Forum held during the Games, supported by several partners including Brand South Africa and government officials from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, etc. . opportunities, boosting business actions, investment flows, cultural connections and international stakeholder engagement highlighted by Eugene Nizeyimana, Pumela Salela – UK Country Head, Brand South Africa and other guest speakers at the forum
These events can generate significant opportunities in many sectors of the economy to achieve legacy and long-term benefits, including engineering, real estate, creative, technology, education, visitor economy, business services, mobility, hospitality, culture and innovation, etc. In addition, they involve significant expenditures for facilities, infrastructure construction and maintenance, and service personnel that support the creation of jobs, new pools of talent and skills. Additionally, substantial revenue is generated through various fees, concessions, television rights, tickets, intellectual property (IP), and marketing promotion of consumer goods and services.
Based on several studies and reports on the results of past events in host countries, hospitality rights offer the possibility of increasing tourism revenue generated by sporting events. African nations may not have been lucky enough to earn their share of the benefits of hosting these major world events, which would have enabled them to derive significant profit from tourism and associated businesses to improve their economic prospects. and their standard of living and create more jobs. opportunities and the general well-being of African countries.
Sports tourism can provide opportunities to revive tourism and the travel economy post-COVID-19, harness community solidarity, and accelerate cultural and diaspora ties with African countries during the Games and beyond. Sports Ministers from the African continent, such as HE Nathi Mthethwa – Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture of the South African Government, have stressed the importance of taking advantage of global sporting and cultural events such as the Commonwealth Games to generate long-term economic benefits for sustainable growth and development and to further promote South Africa to the world as a center for sport, culture and tourism.
African countries, business communities, investors, sports professionals and diaspora communities must pool their resources and work collectively to bid for such global sporting events to take place on the continent. The key steps are to establish a sound economic environment, sound infrastructure and sufficient investment for sports activities to ensure a stable political economy, security and enhanced participation if they are to host such events successfully. Also, support the upcoming 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa and the 2025 Road Cycling World Championships in Rwanda.
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