Sports and Tourism Sector in India
A holiday with friends or family to witness a mega sporting event is no longer a strange idea for travellers belonging from India. The number of travellers keen on a ring side seat to applaud for the Blue Men of Indian Cricket Team at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in foreign countries or their favourite team during T20 tournament or driver in a formula one race is rapidly growing. With the hands of Commonwealth Games in India, ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Indian Premier League, Indian Super League, Buddha Circuit Formula 1 Race the sports tourism is growing rapidly. And these sporting enthusiasts are willing to spend much money to jet set across the globe to experience the thrill of sports with nationalism watching their favourite game live in a stadium. These followers also like to live it up by exploring these destinations simultaneously.
Tourism Opportunity in India
Correspondingly, there has also been a noticeable increase in the number of tour operators and agents specializing in servicing the requirements of this particular segment. It is not only niche specialists, but also big mainstream tour operators who set up a separate division to tap the potential of sports tourism of India. This concept in India about a decade ago, sports tourism, though a niche segment has evolved rapidly over the past five years. A large number of tour agents are introducing with interesting packages surrounding major sporting events. The sports tourism is a well organised and booming sector with major revenue churner in several nations around the world like United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia and many other countries. Several National Tourist Offices are uncompromisingly functioning towards promoting their destinations for sport tourism in India to tap the corporate, as well as fast growing upper middle class and the youth.
Advent of Sports Tourism in India
It was the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003, which started the sports tourism trend in India and offered the kind of exposure which Indian viewers never witnessed. Another major event was the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20, which commenced in 2008, proved to be a milestone in the Indian sports scenario. In the following year, Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 despite being shifted to South Africa played the pied piper, successfully attracting Indian and international spectators generating great volume of outbound traffic for sports tourism. Today, travel abroad to watch a broad range of sporting events by the Indians including cricket, soccer, tennis and Formula One is no longer a strange concept.
Offerings of Sports Tourism in India
The Grand Prix, Wimbledon matches or PGA Championships enhance the sports tourism and has diversified from its conventional form restricted to viewing the sport live, to be clubbed with MICE or leisure trips. Hence, the members from corporate world are often witnessed weaving their conventions and business sessions with various sporting events. The present scenario has further evolved itself to include families accompanying delegates and fans to the sporting event. They consider the event as an incentive to visit and explore the destinations wherein they treat in shopping and other leisure activities.
Tour Operation in Sports Tourism in India
Now, there are several Indian tour operators who approached by their international counterparts in order to promote sports tourism in their countries. India also is walking in this growing business.
Influence on Sports Tourism in India
Switzerland, like most other nations, faced a dip in inbound sports tourism post the global economic slowdown. Hence Switzerland Tourism was keen to travel around new means to promote the destination in the Indian market. The Cricket World Cup generated great interest in India about the destinations and the word of mouth publicity from those who visited the country for the World Cup aided by packages by the travel trade resulting in tourist traffic to South Africa. The subsequent Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 tournament raises the tourist traffic and catapulted South Africa among the popular destinations in Indian market.
Contribution of Commonwealth Games 2010 in Sports Tourism in India
Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi turned out to be a politically tumultuous event. But, the sports tourism finally emerged as a most successful tertiary business sector. Many major travel agencies and tour companies in the country also decided to play it safe and backed out from promoting the Commonwealth Games 2010. Commonwealth Games 2010 played a vital role in creating a major chunk of long over due infrastructure in the capital and also showcasing ‘Incredible India’ to the world. The opening ceremony was a spectacular melange of our diversity and culture. Commonwealth Games 2010 went off without a hitch and gave great exposure to the country.
Contribution of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in Sports Tourism in India
After 2010 Commonwealth Games fever has barely left India, ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2011 paved a new way to promote India Tourism to the foreign land. As the cricket mania gathers impetus in the country with a massive cricket craze, most travel agents and tour operators in India seem to be making the best of the opportunity by designing packages around the tournament to change the outlook of sports tourism.
India Showcasing as a Sports Tourism Place
When an international sport aficionado or a player comes to India, he or she should also have a familiarity with the rich cultural heritage of the country. Watching a round of the snake boat race in the Backwaters of Kerala or a bullock cart race in Tamil Nadu, will offer the watcher with diverse experience while touring the country. The Rural Olympics 2010 held in Kila Raipur, Punjab, attracted hundreds of international tourists. Some tourists from UK and USA, who had come to watch the event, felt that the Punjab Government should promote it internationally.
Contribution of Skiing as Sport Tourism Sector in India
Skiing is a prominent sport in New Zealand and various European countries is also promoting in North Indian states like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, which have world class skiing slopes and skiing tournaments in these states can attract large number of international tourists.
Contribution of Traditional Sports as a Sport Tourism Sector in India
The traditional sports in India can be capitalised upon for Sports Tourism in India. Polo whose origin dates back to AD 15th Century Mughal era also attracts large number of foreign tourists to India. After the British rule in the country, during which the sport suffered a dip, it is not only played by the royal families and the Indian Army, but in recent years, corporate sponsorship too has been able to make a contribution to the sport. Today, Polo is played primarily in the state of Rajasthan and a few remote mountainous enclaves like Gilgit, Chitral, Ladakh and Manipur. State Tourism Boards of these states and the travel deal focuses on developing such sporting events and marketing the same as they deliver unique experiences.
Sports Tourism in India- A Booming Business
Indian sports enthusiasts and the travellers are keen to explore their interests in different sport fields and the neighbouring places of tourism importance, and various NTOs across the world encouraging tie-ups with Indian tour operators to make possible the spots tourism. There is sufficient fodder for India to emerge as a sport tourism destination and boost overall tourism in the country.
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