Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
With an estimated growth rate of 10-20 per cent per annum, sports tourism in India is a new segment with great potential for the future. “Throughout the world, sports tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry and with India’s demonstrated capability of hosting major events, such as the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, as well as substantial efforts in ramping up the country’s infrastructure footprint, it makes sense that sports tourism can be pushed as a feasible path towards attaining tourism goals,” said Anna Singh, assistant managing director, ATPI India. ATP Event Experts, part of the ATPI Group is a leading global provider of innovative package arrangements to diverse sporting events worldwide.
The key events that are expected to give a boost to sports tourism in the country include sports ranging from cricket, kabaddi and football to polo and golf. Pointing out that there is added emphasis by the Government of India to promote golf tourism in the country, Singh mentioned, “It is suggested that 70-78 per cent golfers would be prepared to visit a new golfing destination in the country and this community represents the wealthiest 50 per cent of all golfers.” Polo is regarded as the ‘heritage sports’ of India, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has sanctioned funds with the Government of Manipur for organising the sixth International Polo Festival, coinciding with the Sangai festival. “As far as cricket is concerned IPL is expected to be a driving factor for growing sports tourism in India, in the years to come. In football, the highly anticipated Indian Super League, in partnership with the English Premier League, will commence shortly in October this year,” added Singh. Events like the recently concluded Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), International Premier Tennis League to launch later this year, the second season of the Indian Badminton League in January–February 2015 and the proposed IPL-style Indian Wrestling League, will all contribute to the growth of tourism.
Singh believes that important trends that will guide this growth in the near future will include growing participation from women, globalisation, funding and high-tech revolutions. There will also be emergence of themed events. “Groups having sports tourism experience are acknowledging the prospects for formulating their own events, aimed at filling spaces in a calendar or from a precise opportunity,” she stated. While sports tourism holds vast potential to expand in India, Singh however feels that in order to match with the growing number of entrepreneurs eager to make an investment in this category of tourism, a comprehensive and holistic renovation of infrastructure management, safety matters and planning needs to covered.