Fiji Time: 5:04 PM on Thursday 30 June

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Importance of sports tourism

Fred Wesley
Thursday, June 30, 2016

SPORTS tourism may have been unheard of in the past. It may not have attracted attention.

Without a doubt though, it has the potential to grow into something positive for us as a nation.

It may still be a growing facet of the tourism industry. Whatever one makes of it though, it seems major sporting events are now something Government plans to boost, to paint Fiji as an attractive destination.

As the report on Page 2 today points out, one event that has consistently brought in a significant number of tourists is the annual Fiji Pro surf competition for instance.

Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya hailed the event which concluded earlier this month as a success.

The event, he said, showcased Fiji to the world as a top surfing destination.

"We have had the men's and women's events and in terms of tourism for Fiji, it's just a wonderful opportunity for us as it goes out live to millions of people around the world," he said.

Mr Koya said many professional surfers loved it.

A range of events have been lined up, including the PGA Golf Tournament in Natadola, the World Stand Up Paddleboard competition in November and the Interhash tournament in 2018.

Having won the bid for Interhash, he said, meant Fiji would be hosting about 5000 competitors.

As a sports tourism destination, it goes without saying that it will be a great platform to build on.

Tomorrow, rugby fans will get their first chance to watch live two great Super Rugby teams in a top of the table clash at the national stadium in Suva.

And already the war chants are being practised around the country as fans plan a top welcome for the teams.

Clearly events of this nature take time and effort to plan.

They embrace a sizeable serving of funds, and hundreds of hours of planning and promotions.

Let's face it though, such events have the potential to inch out huge benefits for the country.

Chances are, fans who may be following their favourite teams here may not have planned Fijian holidays.

Clearly the arrival of visitors provides us a platform to promote Fiji as a great holiday destination all year round.

We have to admit sports tourism globally has grown significantly in importance.

Consider the Hong Kong 7s annually as an attractive holiday destination for thousands of fans who travel in from around the world. A major attraction is the sevens action at the Happy Valley.

Perhaps we need to be proactive and quickly build on from top sporting events we do attract here.

The question is can sports tourism serve as a driver of growth and development in the future?

There will certainly be a lot of interest in tomorrow's Super Rugby clash for many reasons.

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