Sport Tourism Canada survey shows country is ready to host again!

published on June 24, 2021
What's New in Montréal Sporting event

For the past several months, Sport Tourism Canada (STC) has been focused on preparing for a sport hosting and economic reboot. One of their major actions was to conduct a comprehensive survey of local, provincial, and national stakeholders in sport tourism. In partnership with Destination Canada, more than 600 organizations responded to the survey.

The objectives of the study were threefold: 1) to provide meaningful, actionable insights, 2) to enable the return of sport event hosting and sport tourism, and 3) to provide information that will restore the confidence of participants, spectators, and communities.

The comprehensive reports include tangible recommendations to ensure the success of future sporting events in Canada. If you haven’t had time to read the full reports, here are some highlights!

Part I: Domestic

Unsurprisingly, 2020 was a tough year for sports events. Despite best efforts, the status of 2020 clearly outlines the effects of the pandemic on the industry, with 84% of organizations forced to modify or cancel events. The respondents also indicated that 25% of events were fully cancelled, with an additional 18% postponing events indefinitely.

But things are looking up. In 2021, 70% of event rights holders plan to host events in some form.  

Over half of host respondents believe there will be changes when it comes to evaluating the success of an event; hosts are considering economic impact and social impact as the most important measures. Environmental sustainability saw the largest shift pre- to post-pandemic with a 13% jump to 41% of hosts having it on their list of top three priorities. This aligns with sentiments in the broader tourism industry of reconsidering how a destination hosts visitors and ultimately how those visitors experience their travels.

Read the full Domestic report here!

Part II: International

Sport tourism in Canada is incredibly important to local economies. Sport tourism made a $6.8 billion (CAD) annual contribution to the Canadian economy in the pre-pandemic era. The average spend of an overseas visitor ($2,033.01 per stay) has a direct impact on local economies. Sport tourism has started to re-emerge in various forms.

What makes Canada a unique host? Here’s what the survey said:

  1. Excellent venues (80%)
  2. Strong National Federation support (80%)
  3. Expertise in the sport being hosted (70%)
  4. Safety (70%)

What are the reasons for not hosting in Canada?

  1. No interest from cities (58%)
  2. Insufficient funding (rights fees, governments, sponsors) (50%)
  3. Lack of relationship with Canadian hosts (33%)

One big takeaway is this: Canada’s competitiveness in international hosting can also be strengthened through alignment from the host city up through the national or multi-sport organizations to regain our standing globally.

Read the full International report here!

On COVID-19 and safety

One bit of good news is that Canada is still perceived as a safe place to visit. The majority (53%) of international event rights holders believe that Canada is safer than most countries, specifically in relation to COVID-19. Considering that safety was Canada’s advantage as a host nation prior to the pandemic, losing this edge could impact our competitiveness.

Barriers in hosting in Canada (related to COVID-19)

  1. Local / regional / federal laws, bylaws and restrictions not allowing events (86%)
  2. Quarantine requirements (86%)
  3. Entry restrictions / border closures (82%)

Factors of importance for International federations for permitting event “go ahead”

  1. Ease of air access to host cities (95%)
  2. Limited border closures or entry restrictions (90%)
  3. Pre-event testing of all participants, coaches, officials and volunteers (85%)
  4. Revenue / fiscal assurance (84.3%)
  5.  More lax quarantine requirements in host country (84.2%)

Incidentally, well-financed sports (such as pro leagues), individual sports, and outdoor sports are in a better position to get back to competition sooner. A little more than 44% of respondents anticipate live sporting events to return within the next nine months (by January 2022) with spectators at full capacity, jumping to 78% within a year (by April 2022).

Stay tuned next week for Part 3 of the study: Consumer sentiment regarding sport event hosting during and post-pandemic! The results will be available on the Sport Tourism Canada website.


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