Thursday 22 March 2018

Sports enthusiasts are the new GCC travellers

, February 23, 2017

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 and Luxury Travel Congress, organised by Dubai-based QnA International taking place from March 1-2 at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai, UAE, will for the fifth 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 recognise that the GCC is a market that has significant interest in travel to certain key global sporting events,” sid 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 travellers 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,” said 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,” said 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 travellers 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,” said 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. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: GCC | travellers | Sport |

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