Thailand acknowledges sports tourism’s importance


Bangkok (eTN) – With sport activities and especially sport events becoming increasingly important market segments to the development of tourism, Thailand has stepped up into the sports tourism arena. The kingdom will play host for the world’s latest travel fair and exhibition, World Sport Destination Expo (WSDE), which will be the only global exhibition and business forum dedicated to showcasing the booming sports tourism sector.

It is estimated that revenues from this niche market grew last year by 14%, generating already some US$600 billion a year. Sports tourism is turning into tourism’s fastest-growing sector. Now in its second year, WSDE 2011 will be hosted in Bangkok from September 27 to September 29, 2011.

The show presents countries, regions, and cities offering either sports activities or sporting events. In Asia, Japan and Korea have long been leading destinations for sports events thanks to the hosting of prestigious events such as the Olympics. But over the last 15 years, more countries in the region have gained a profile as host countries for prestigious sports events. Big car race events now take place in Macau, Kuala Lumpur (Sepang), and Singapore. Indonesia is a top destination for surf competitions in Sumatra or Bali, while the Tour de Singkarang in West Sumatra is turning into a major sports event for cyclists worldwide. Over the last years, China emerged as a mature sports destination following the hosting of the Summer Olympics 2008 in Beijing followed by Guangzhou Asia Games.

Thailand has long been recognized as a sports paradise. The PTT Thailand Open, created in 2003, is attracting world-class tennis men every year, and golf competition has firmly put Thailand on the sports tourism map. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has earmarked golf as a priority in its 2011 marketing strategy. TAT will not only highlight the country’s world-class golf courses but also welcome this year six golf industry conferences and exhibitions with the highlight being WSDE 2011 next September. The kingdom will also promote the brand-new Phuket International Academy Sports and Leisure Club (PIASLC), a leading-edge development poised to become one of Asia’s most sophisticated training complexes for sports.

WSDE Sport Tourism Expo is supported by TAT, the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and the Sports Authority of Thailand and will take place at the Bangkok Convention Centre.