Sport tourism from the GCC is rapidly being acknowledged as one of the fastest growing sectors in the $4.5 trillion global travel and tourism industry. The 21st century is witnessing a gradual replacement of sun and sea vacations by sport-related vacation and a new generation of tourists is emerging that nurtures increasing interest in sport events.
2016 has clearly been a challenging year for global travel. At the same time, the travel market in the GCC, and particularly the upper end of the market sees travel as integral part of their lifestyle. Love for travel coupled with passion for sports and desire to witness top global sporting events creates a strong motivation to travel and experience sporting events.
The MICE Arabia & Luxury Travel Congress, organised by Dubai-based QnA International taking place from 01-02 March, 2017 at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, UAE, will for the 5th consecutive year highlight the changing landscape for outbound travel from the GCC. The congress will open doors to a whole new world of exciting destinations that can be explored by sport fans, thrill seekers and adventure sports enthusiasts.
With the advent of budget airways, direct flights, and healthy competition in the travel and hospitality sectors, travelling to sporting events is increasingly common. “The GCC has strong interest in experiencing travel to the most exclusive sporting events around the globe with a particular interest in World Cup and other top football events as well as in Grand Slam Tennis, F1 Racing and some North American golf and horse racing events. We recognize that the GCC is a market that has significant interest in travel to certain key global sporting events,” explained Mr. Dustin Kaylor, Business Development Director, RoadTrips
The trend to travel for sports has even transcended major sporting events according to some participants at the MALT Congress, who opined that some travelers seek out individual extreme sport experiences. “We are seeing lots of demand for special interest with food, culture and sport being key requirements: it could be a helicopter flight, a speedboat down the Thames or a hot air balloon flight over the English countryside,” explained Mr. Rob Russel, Owner, AC Tours London
Specialists and professionals in the travel and hospital industry agree that this segment of travellers is particularly resistant to economic conditions: “People will be somewhat more selective in choosing events and destinations, but their desire to witness top global sporting events is strong and they will travel,” commented Mr. Kaylor
Speaking on the importance of the MALT Congress platform, Mr. Vittorio Marsiglio, Owner and CEO
Intercontinental Travel Company, Italy’s Premier DMC said: “Of course, we as a DMC, can do so much to help our business grow such as promoting our destination through new digital channels); maintaining our relationships with the local and national authorities; controlling the quality of services to make sure that they are always of a high standard. But we must constantly look for new venues to propose and promote our unique destinations and drive attention to new segments such as sports tours. As such it is crucial to increase our visibility in these areas and the opportunities represented by B2B platforms like the MALT Congress is irreplaceable.’’
‘’Sports tourism is an interesting segment. The travelers or sports enthusiast themselves represent a mixed demography and while some are fine with good value-for-money deals on accommodation and travel, there are some that seek out luxury packages. We have individually or through professional exposure seen the numbers travelling into the UAE for the F1 races, and the accompanying entertainment. It is a huge market with great potential. Hearing experts speak and discuss about this developing and lucrative niche at the MALT Congress will surely result in idea generation for those in the sector,” commented Sidh N.C, Director, QnA International.
The fifth edition of the congress will focus on the tremendous potential for outbound MICE, sports and luxury travel from the Middle East.