Tourist arrivals in Malaysia rose to more than 25 million arrivals in 2012 and revenue climbed to almost $20.2 billion, which is an increase of 4% since 2011. Part of this increase is down to the targeting, by a dedicated government agency, of sport events to generate tourism revenues.
Under Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), tourism was identified as one of the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEA), to drive the nations economic growth. A number of tourism development projects have been put in place in order to achieve 36 million arrivals and $60 billion in tourism receipts by 2020.
One of these development projects include securing major events. In 2012, Malaysia managed to attract $308 million in tourist receipts from tourists visiting Malaysia for major sports, art, lifestyle and entertainment events.
‘Malaysia Major Events’ the new agency, created under the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, is confident that it will achieve greater milestones in growing Malaysia as the destination for major sporting events within the Asia-Pacific region that is expected to contribute $140 million to the Gross National Income (GNI) and 8,000 temporary jobs to the nation by 2020. With the high availability of fully equipped and sophisticated sports facilities & infrastructures, Malaysia is now experienced and has gained wide expertise in organizing and hosting various types of sporting events.
Malaysia Sporting Events will be the catalyst in securing major sporting event bids for Malaysia and it aims to make more progress at the SportAccord convention 2013 in Russia. Malaysia has already hosted major events like the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix, Moto GP Malaysian Grand Prix, Autobacs Super GT Series, international leg of the PGA Tour, ATP/WTP tennis tournaments etc. Through its efforts, in 2016 they will host the World Table Tennis Championships and the IFMA (Muaythai) World Championships in 2014. Also, they will be hosting the 127th IOC session in 2015 at the Kuala Lumpar Convention Centre, Malaysia.
Research by the British Tourism Authority has indicated that the tourist who comes to indulge in his or her chosen sporting passion is likely to spend twice as much as the ‘ordinary tourist’.
In Ireland, the power of sports tourism was very much evident in 2012 with the American Football Game between U.S Navy and Notre Dame which attracted a capacity crowd which included 35,000 visitors from the US. Many of these visitors combined the game with a holiday in Ireland and preliminary research has indicated that hotels, restaurants, shops and golf courses saw a sharp increase in business. Initial figures indicate that the overall contribution to the economy as a whole was in excess of €100 million. Other examples of the power of sports tourism include the Volvo Ocean Race, the Men’s Olympic Hockey Qualifiers and the Youth Sailing World Championships.
Sarah O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Irish Sport, writing in our Annual Review said that: ‘the sooner we set up a dedicated agency to bid for sports events the better. ‘Sport Event Denmark’ is an outstanding example of what is possible. A joint venture between the Danish Government and the country’s national sporting organisations, Sport Event Denmark, is now so successful that it wins 2 out of every 3 events it bids for. In recent years, Sport Event Denmark, has facilitated the hosting in Denmark of the Olympic and UEFA congresses, World and European championships across a wide range of sports including cycling, wrestling and football.’
A similar model could and would deliver for Ireland. We have a strong track record in hosting sporting events but never has there been a strategic approach to the bringing in of such events . This is an area where Ireland could excel and deliver a boost to our tourism industry.
The establishment of ‘Sport Bid Ireland’ would ensure that sports and government were working in tandem to secure a steady stream of appropriate events into Ireland with all the ancillary benefits that this would provide. Ireland could learn from our Malaysian and Danish counterparts where a strategic approach to attracting sporting events has delivered a real economic return.