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SCU study analyses sport tourists


Brigid Veale
12 September 2005
Ever wondered why somebody would travel thousands of kilometres just for the opportunity to play a couple of soccer games? Why such a person would choose possible exhaustion, injury and post-game muscle fatigue over the chance to relax in a swimming pool lounge chair with a cool beverage by their side?

Welcome to the mind of a sport tourist, possibly Australia's strongest growing niche tourism market. For these tourists it's not about the chance to relax and unwind but the opportunity to keep active while on vacation.

In an effort to understand more about such individuals, Patrick Gillett from Southern Cross University's Tweed Gold Coast campus has launched a study to analyse the motivations of this unique tourist.

"Although the act of combining travel and sport has been practiced throughout history, it is only in the past 10 years or so that a specific sport tourism market has been recognised," Mr Gillet said.

"Local governments in particular see the potential for significant economic development as a result of sport tourism events. However, there's relatively little understanding of the sport tourist themselves."

Using Masters Games as an event that exemplifies sport tourism, Mr Gillett has begun collecting data from Gold Coast residents who are preparing for the 2005 Australian Masters Games, which will start in Adelaide on October 7.

Masters Games, or 'multi-sport events for the mature aged', attract anywhere from a few hundred competitors to the 10,000 plus expected on the Gold Coast for next year's Pan Pacific Masters Games.

"The Gold Coast is a great example of a region that has established a strong sport tourism identity.

"In addition to high profile events such as the PPMG, Airport Marathon and Indy, it's possible that significant tourism activity is also generated through less publicised events such as local Surf Life Saving and triathlon championships."

Mr Gillett said while he was still in the early stages of collecting data, there was an overwhelming emphasis on the camaraderie among Masters Games participants.

"Levels of competitiveness and the desire to achieve appear to be very individualistic factors. But one common factor among those I have interviewed so far is the experience of travelling and competing with team-mates. For many, Masters Games events are a significant experience in their lives."

Any individual who is registered for the 2005 Australian Masters Games and would like to be included in the study group is invited to contact Mr Gillett at Southern Cross University's Tweed Gold Coast campus on 07 5506 9388.

Photo caption: Sports tourists are the subject of a research project under way by Pat Gillett, from Southern Cross University.