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Sport Tourism: A Critical Analysis of Research


  • Gibson, Heather J.


The concept of sport related tourism has become more prominent in the last few years both as an academic field of study and an increasingly popular tourism product. The purpose of this paper is to review and critique the sport tourism literature as it stands in 1998, and to suggest a future research agenda. Disparities in the definition of sport tourism are addressed and some of the difficulties which scholars have faced in establishing a standardised definition are outlined. In answering the question why has sport tourism suddenly become so prominent, a look back at history shows that people have engaged in sport related travel for centuries. However, in the past ten years, the popularity of this form of travel has increased. Various explanations, such as the increased emphasis on health and fitness and increased use of sports events by cities to attract tourists, are examined. The question of what is known about sport tourism includes a review and critique of the literature in the three domains of sport tourism: active sport tourism, which refers to people who travel to take part in sport; event sport tourism, which refers to travel to watch a sports event; and nostalgia sport tourism, which includes visits to sports museums, famous sports venues, and sports themed cruises. The overarching conclusion from this review is that the field suffers from a lack of integration in the realms of policy, research, and education. At a policy level, there needs to be better coordination among agencies responsible for sport and those responsible for tourism. At a research level, more multi-disciplinary research is needed, particularly research which builds upon existing knowledge bases in both sport and tourism. In the realm of education, territorial contests between departments claiming tourism expertise and those claiming sport expertise need to be overcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Gibson, Heather J., 1998. "Sport Tourism: A Critical Analysis of Research," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 45-76, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:spomar:v:1:y:1998:i:1:p:45-76

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    3. Cunningham, George B., 2013. "Theory and theory development in sport management," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-4.
    4. Oliveira, Eduardo, 2012. "Instruments of Place Branding and Regional Dynamics: Guimarães as European Capital of Culture," MPRA Paper 53065, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Kennelly, Millicent & Toohey, Kristine, 2014. "Strategic alliances in sport tourism: National sport organisations and sport tour operators," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 407-418.
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    7. Kellett, Pamm, 1999. "Organisational Leadership: Lessons from Professional Coaches," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 150-171, November.
    8. John C. Whitehead & Pamela Wicker, 2017. "Using Willingness to Travel to Estimate the Monetary Value of Intangible Benefits Derived from Active Sport Event Tourism," Working Papers 17-03, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    9. Juliana Langgat Author_Email: & Mohd Salehuddin Mohd Zahari & Mohd Syaquif Yasin & Nur Aliah Mansur, 2011. "The Alteration Of Sarawak Ethnic Natives’ Food: It’S Impact To Sarawak State Tourism," 2nd International Conference on Business and Economic Research (2nd ICBER 2011) Proceeding 2011-171, Conference Master Resources.
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    12. Nicolau, Juan L., 2012. "The effect of winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup on the tourism market value: The Spanish case," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 503-510.
    13. Stefano Duglio & Riccardo Beltramo, 2017. "Estimating the Economic Impacts of a Small-Scale Sport Tourism Event: The Case of the Italo-Swiss Mountain Trail CollonTrek," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(3), pages 1-17, February.

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