Mega-events, sports and tourism – new knowledge portal announced


LONDON, June 8/9, 2010 – The DeHaan Institute at Nottingham University will construct a new portal for tourism, “Mega Events,” with a research grant from VISA and working closely with UNWTO and other key stakeholders. Its primary focus will be on sports and tourism events.

This was announced at an event for the Honorable Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Tourism Minister, Republic of South Africa, to update the travel industry and media on the excellent state of preparedness for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and the positive trends in South African tourism.

In presenting a report by the DeHaan Institute and VISA on the need to strengthen links between mega events, sports, and tourism, Professor Geoffrey Lipman, chair of the Institute’s advisory board, said: “There is a growing recognition of the strong intersects between tourism and mega-events, particularly sporting events like the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup. It is also clear that there are important economic, social, and environmental impacts – good and bad. During the UNWTO/Republic of South Africa meetings in February of this year, VISA, as a major global sponsor of mega–events, commissioned the research framework led by the DeHaan Institute at Nottingham University. We are pleased to announce continuing collaboration in the development of a new knowledge portal that will help advance industry interests in this important field.”

The new report in summary notes:

In recent years the scale, scope, and impact of mega events has increased dramatically – particularly for sports-related events such as the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup.

These events provide massive opportunity and challenges for tourism companies and communities. On the one hand, they give an impetus for local development, new revenue streams, branding, innovation, and enterprise. On the other, there are major costs, management, and environmental impacts that need to be taken into account.

The bidding and award process itself can be complex, time consuming and costly. The economic, environmental and branding consequences last for many years. In addition, because such events are “owned” by many different bodies – some very influential, such as the IOC and FIFA – there are gaps in knowledge for communities, policymakers and industry stakeholders interested in hosting these events. While the knowledge may be available in some areas, it is often not easily accessible.

The “tourism intersects” are often even less identified and the full impact over a strategic planning timeframe is difficult to assess given the political hype and media focus of such events. Once bids have been won, these challenges intensify due to the many interests involved in celebration and execution.

Clearly, a means to objectively fill in some of the knowledge gaps would be helpful to destination managers and the many travel and tourism stakeholders engaged in such events. The experience around mega events will be useful for those involved in any international event bidding and management activity.

These points were among the most important conclusions of the Summit on Mega Events held earlier this year under the auspices of the government of the Republic of South Africa & UNWTO. They were also identified as priorities by the associated research colloquium sponsored by VISA and supported by research from the DeHaan Institute at the University of Nottingham & Johannesburg University.

As a follow up, VISA has committed to sponsor the development of a “Knowledge Portal” spearheaded by the DeHaan Institute and drawing support from other academic institutions around the world. To ensure engagement with stakeholders during the design, construction, and operational phases, an advisory group is being formed with the involvement of major event organizations, UNWTO, and other interested agencies.

The portal will be a “one-stop shop” for anyone in the travel and tourism sector engaged in mega events. It will be designed to meet the evolving policy goals articulated by UNWTO at the Johannesburg Summit, to highlight good practice, identify challenges, and particularly to link with the long-term shift to green economy values and norms. By including operational and performance data across different types of events, it will allow organizers and bidders to gain increased knowledge for planning and delivery of events, as well as to better meet their potential based on best practice and as part of a long-term strategy.

It will also incorporate the most up-to-date search, classification, and web-based access/storage technology. Relationships will be forged with key event agencies in order to access as much existing data for the portal and where possible, it will link freely with other sites holding event information.

Following the design and scoping stage in the second half of 2010, the portal will be launched in 2011 in good time for the London Olympics.