Rugby Sevens World Series and The Value of Sports Tourism

With the HSBC Rugby Sevens World Series on the immediate horizon, Cape Town looks forward to hosting the South African leg of the series. This is an exciting financial injection into Cape Town’s growing business prospects, considering last year’s economic performance where the city received a R539 million boost. In a recent interview, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Eddie Andrews, said that in 2015 the two-day event saw 106 245 spectators fill the Cape Town stadium – 34% of those spectators were from Cape Town, 21% from the larger WC region, 22% from the rest of South Africa, and 23% from other countries.

Enver Duminy, Cape Town Tourism CEO, says that Cape Town Tourism values the contribution to the tourism economy that sporting events provide, as competitors, their families and other supporters will have the opportunity to enjoy some leisure time before and after such events. He added that sporting events also encourage locals to explore more of the City and that highlighting sporting events is viewed as central to Cape Town Tourism’s efforts in combating the issue of seasonality, since many of these events can be hosted all year round, contributing not only to sustainability in the tourism sector, but to job creation for locals as well.

When considering some of the City’s major sporting events, the value it brings to the local economy cannot be denied:

  • The Met: the Met attracts 50 000 visitors and generates more than R60 million – the event generates an estimated R14 million in fashion sales alone, a big win for our fashion sector
  • Cape Town Cycle Tour: the Cape Town Cycle Tour sees a total of 35 000 participants every year, with roughly 4 500 international participants and an estimated economic impact of R450 million
  • Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon: a study conducted in 2013 by Dr Martinette Kruger of North West University, showed that the economic impact of the marathon to Cape Town was R266 million
  • ABSA Cape Epic: the Epic is said to have an economic impact of R218 million.

The economic impact of sports tourism holds a great amount of value for the City of Cape Town and, as it continues to grow in popularity, it will be able to contribute significantly to South Africa’s economic, infrastructure (hotels, transportation networks, roads, telecommunications, airports, etc.) and social development.

It is also important to note that, in addition to the economic contribution of this niche and according to ResearchGate, although the concept of place branding is still relatively new, there is an increasing awareness of the significant impact which sport can have on a city’s brand – a sentiment echoed by Cllr Andrews where, in another interview, he said that Cape Town would benefit from its profile being raised across broadcasting media. The ResearchGate report also said that cities are now considering the addition of sport to their brand traits and are focusing on sport re-imaging, due to the advanced nature of international sport, and the economic and social gains associated with hosting major sports events. The hosting of sports events is increasingly being viewed as part of a broader tourism strategy aimed at enhancing the profile of a city.

The HSBC Sevens World Series will take place in Cape Town from 10 – 11 December.

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