PhD in Olympic Tourism and Event Impacts

I’m delighted to be starting a PhD in Olympic Tourism and Event Impacts shortly at Anglia Ruskin University.

I will be updating this blog with updates, insights from my research and the odd reflection throughout my PhD. You can also follow my Twitter page here.


Future Directions of Sports Tourism – Fostering Scenario Planning Practices

The ascent of sports tourism is rooted within seeking to perpetuate and seize upon speculative events and their unprecedented tourism outputs. Sports tourism can be attractive means for bolstering place reputations and forging a demand for repeat domestic and international visitors. The future trends and directions of sport tourism have yet to be contemplated and consummately operationalised. The ability to recognise and understand future directions of sports tourism is lacking in documentation and remains relatively unadressed in the literature. This warrants an immediate comprehensive present examination with the intentions of evaluating past trends and channelling rich destination modelling, with the aim of determining and factoring triggers into the subsequent state of sports tourism. This conceptual posts objective is to contextualise the debate revolving the future (including principles) of sports tourism.

Yeoman (2012) proposed and modelled a series of scenarios-based outcomes in his latest publication “2050 – Tomorrow’s Tourism”. The purpose (remarked as its utility value) was to explore the possibilities of change in order to make sense of future happenings, therefore reducing uncertainty, risk and clarifying the extent of change. Yeoman highlighted three central themes – technology, wealth and resources; there was a global recognition that a distinctive plethora of drivers could energise or force change to the game of tourism (see Model A – Driving Forces of Change). For the next phase of this assessment I am going to extract key drivers from Yeoman’s Chapter 8 – “New Zealand 2050: The Future of Professional Rugby and Sporting Events” and apply a envisaged discussion to the future framework of sports tourism. This chapter is deemed to be the closest scenario case, and one which possesses the most relevance to the sports tourism industry.

The future of sports tourism and hallmark sporting events (in 2050) is likely to be shaped by the continual proliferation in the technological revolution, transforming the supply and cultural formula of the sports tourism structure and experience. The availability and use of high-technology equipment to enhance the fan sporting experiences and games will possibly drive the cost of managing or hosting sports events (Yeoman, 2012: 149). Consequently emergent cities with limited technological resources, unfamiliar reputations and unproven track records of hosting *MSE’s may refrain from entering the bidding process – due to the exorbitant levels of start-up costs incurred. The desire for new experiences (Driver 3) diagnoses that the rise and pursuit of individualism has spawned an interest in a variety of sports, including individuals adopting extreme sports rather than the conventional and accepted popular national sports.

The economical power of sport (Driver 4) represents an integral sphere and facilitates an immense degree of interplay with global corporations. Yeoman illustrates the economical power of sport using the example of New Zealand hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011. The economic importance of rugby is noted in television viewing figures. Behind the Olympic Games and the Fifa World Cup the Rugby World Cup is the third most watched sport on television (Yeoman, 2012: 138). Research undertaken by Visit Britain in 2011 estimated live sport tourism to be worth approximately £2.3 billion to the UK economy each year. The survey analysing visits to a live sporting events found that around 1.3 million tourists attended an event, which is 4% of all visits, with the total amount spent by this group reaching £1.1 billion. In 2050 sports tourists from Asian countries (China, India) could well dominate the sports tourism market. A hypothetical world tourism prospect is Asia and the Pacific may represent 49.8% of all international arrivals compared with 20.6% today (Yeoman, 2012: 32).

Yeoman acknowledges the hazards of attracting the new consumer to attend sporting events – coming in the form of the insperience economy. The insperience economy becomes increasingly pertinent as technology enables sporting matches to be presented in 3D (Yeoman, 2012: 150). Moreover Yeoman emphatically notes that this insperience orientated economy could reduce the desire and propensity to travel to sporting events. Will this insperience economy rupture and erode this motivation to attend a live sporting event, or will the live sporting event experience a re-birth and prosper alongside the mechanised tourism conditions of the future?

To discover more about major sporting events and scenario planning you can also read a previous post entitled “Predicting Olympic Tourism Flows – Utilisation of Scenario Planning“.

*Major Sporting Events

Model A – Driving Forces of Change (Adapted from Yeoman, 2012: 8).

Driving Forces of Change (Yeoman, 2012: 8)

Predicting Olympic Tourism Flows – Utilisation of Scenario Planning

I will examine whether we can really predict Olympic tourism numbers to a host city/nation. In short I will debate whether the “Major Sporting Event Tourism Flow Model” developed by Preuss (2005) and scenario planning approaches should be integrated together, in order to standardise methods of measuring economical impact of major sporting events on the host city. It will include an assessment of whether scenario planning could eventually become a key application in the world of identifying Olympic tourism flows and trends to the host city.

Using Preuss’ (2005) Major Sporting Event Tourism Flow Model it is possible to identify classifications of tourists that are likely to visit, leave or stay away from the host city/nation during major sporting events like the Olympic Games (see Model A – Major Sporting Event Tourism Flow Model). Preuss, Segiun and O’Reilly (2007) linked each of those classification types to resulting economical impacts. The Pre/Post Switchers, Casuals, Time Switchers and Residents classifications caused a reallocation of money in the economy due to the hosting of the event. The Extentioners, Event Visitors and Home Stayer types resulted in fresh injections of cash entering the economy due to staging the event. At the same time Cancellers and Runaways impacted upon the expenditure which is lost or removed from the economy as an opportunity cost for hosting the event.

Canterbury Christ Church University’s Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research (SPEAR) shows that claims over Olympic tourism flows are usually pre-Games predictions rather than post-Games evaluations. Moreover tourists deciding to travel to the host city/nation during the Olympic Games as a replacement for a trip at another time are often counted as additional positive impacts. The Bank of England are relatively optimistic that the British economy will receive a boost from the Olympic Games, especially from those foreign tourists spending lavishly during the Games. On the contrary the aftermath surge of the Games could leave behind an Olympic hangover for those hotel and hospitality providers in less recognisable tourist settings, like Stratford based near the Olympic park. The Olympic Games which is hyped as a big money maker could actually scare off additional tourists, coupled with tourism expecting to face a downturn during the Games due to the extortionate prices being charged by tour operators. This year a report completed by Forward Keys outlined potential travel trends and impacts associated with inbound travel to London due to the Olympic Games. The Olympics are expected to increase arrivals to London. Bookings made between 23rd July and 12th August are 13% higher than in 2011. For the same period the rest of the country will receive just 4% more arrivals than last year. Visitors to the city seem to be deferring their trips to ensure it matches the timing of Olympic events, alongside this fewer expected arrivals are estimated compared to last year in the weeks before the 23rd July.

Methods for analysing the economical impacts of the Olympic Games or other world stage events lack one single, consistent model which measures the underlying benefits or indeed drawbacks on the host city. A strategic planning framework is required for leveraging post-Games Olympic tourism in order to maximise the Olympics legacy benefits relative to the host city’s tourism development. Incorporating the Major Sporting Event Tourism Flow Model with a system of scenario planning may be a wise for tourism planners to consider. As scenario planning can be adopted for sustainable destination planning and used to understand degrees of uncertainty relating to the future of tourism. Moreover the process of scenario planning may be an appropriate application for identifying and pre-empting how the Olympics may affect tourism flows and trends to the host city/nation. Scenario planning is a mechanism which enables an authority or organisation to make sense of future change in a systematic and holistic manner. Therefore as a result they may be able to identify gaps in the market condition, adapt to transformational change and develop responsible and sustainable tourism strategies.

 Model A – Major Sporting Event Tourism Flow Model (Adapted from Preuss, 2005; Preuss, Segiun and O’Reilly, 2007; Donohoe, 2012).

Spectacle Fever

This post aims to interpret and reflect upon the notion of the quintessential spectacle fever. In essence I will argue that present day sports have transcended into visible and outlandish spectacles. Factors such as the media, globalisation, commodification, and the changing social composition of spectators will be examined.

Over recent decades the nature and magnitude of many sporting events and experiences has seemingly changed. This notion that sport can be referred to as a type of spectacle is certainly nothing of a new phenomenon. This idea may have been influenced by the writings of Guy Debord and, in turn, his work may have resulted in the integration of words such as sport and spectacle. Debord first introduced a concept called “the Society of the Spectacle”; his work is predominantly understood to take critical viewpoint of contemporary consumer culture.

Debord’s work illustrates the dominant role of the media in directly influencing celebrity culture. The media have played a very important role in influencing attributes associated with a possible shift, from sport to spectacle. Media exposure and attention has the incredible ability to sustain and re-develop the spectator experience repeatedly. Moreover the media have given sports such as American football the chance to be able to transform their matches into attractive events and displays of a spectacle nature.

Globalisation and commodification of sports such as football may have caused sporting games to become visible spectacles. Globalisation and commodification of sports such as football may have caused changes in the type of spectator that attends matches. I believe sports have seen a diminishment in the ideals and characteristics such as authenticity and unpredictability which inherently dominated sporting games previously. The process of globalisation has increasingly resulted in the deconstruction of the traditional values and meanings connected to sporting pastimes.

Global entertainment franchises dominate 21st century life and culture, including examples like Britain’s Got Talent and the FIFA World Cup. Modern day football and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games may both be representative of a form of spectacle. There is ever increasing trend towards the borrowing, manipulation and utilisation of aspects of entertainment. For example this can be shown in the case of the Superbowl. Moreover it could show a possible change in focus from the sport itself to the event that surrounds the sport. Today’s society features all manner of spectacles and displays which resonate entirely throughout contemporary culture like an apparent infectious fever.