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Tourism Pitches Sports Visitors

(This is a guest article by Sheila Scarborough)

If you are part of the tourist board for Paris or Tokyo or New York, you have visitors coming in all the time, for millions of different reasons.

If you are a smaller town or less urban region, you have to look around and ask some hard questions…what do we have that can draw visitors and tourism dollars since we appear to have misplaced our Eiffel Tower?

One answer is sports tourism.

Several towns and cities in Texas, for example, emphasize their sports facilities in tourism marketing materials. Arlington (between Dallas and Fort Worth) has the Texas Rangers ballpark, the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame and of course, the schmancy new Dallas Cowboys stadium. The west Texas town of Midland touts its family-friendly Rockhounds minor league baseball team, the Scharbauer Sports Complex for hosting a variety of tournaments and the Odessa Jackalopes Hockey team.

My current hometown of Round Rock uses the tagline “Sports Capital of Texas” for its offerings in youth, amateur and recreational sports. The Round Rock CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) is active in social media channels and hired me to do some YouTube video work tied mostly to the sports angle. It has helped to round out and enhance the content that already flows to our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts.

An unexpected benefit of this for me personally is discovering sports treasures right under my nose.

For example, I had no idea that we have an active cricket league with a full pitch in our Old Settler’s Park, a world-class discus golf course and even a flying area for RC (remote-controlled) planes and helicopters. I spent part of a weekend shooting video at a big teen bowling event, and when Team USA women’s football held their training camp here prior to a major international tournament, it was great fun to interview them about their love of football and their impressions of my town’s facilities.

All of those players, coaches, managers, trainers and family members mean dollars flowing into the local economy from “heads in beds and napkins in laps.”

It may not be as glamorous as having the Eiffel Tower or a hopping club scene, but tourism organizations of every size are recognizing that sports can be a great way to entice and welcome visitors.


Sheila Scarborough is a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. She’s the co-founder of Tourism Currents: online courses in social media and tech for tourism. A travel blogger since early 2006, Sheila thinks everyone ought to have a passport and experience jet lag.

Blog on tourism and social media: Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff

Twitter: @SheilaS

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22 Responses to Tourism Pitches Sports Visitors

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    The significant thing about sports teams is their loyalty. Our town has one of the premier soccer complexes in the Midwest, and the yearly tourneys that are hosted here bring thousands of families to our fair city. They are interested in in our town and say it with visits beyond the sports complex.

    Having a cohesive marketing strategy that includes online/social media strategies puts CVBs in the driver's seat. The key strength of social media is garnering input from the communities you wish to attract and then implementing them (ie. monitor hashtag chats and incorporate what you find into your marketing plans).

    Great, great post. I'd expect nothing less. Thanks for sharing. Best, M.

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