What will the sports tourist look like in 2014?

Ian Yeoman, Gayle McPherson, Lynn Black

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Collaborative research carried out by VisitScotland and Glasgow Caledonian University has been prompted by the notion that vast numbers of people are interested in sport and most consumers aspire to at least one holiday every year. Sport has become an integral part of many of these holidays whether it be attendance at a particular event or taking part in a particular sporting activity. This increasing interest in sport has prompted a huge growth in related global business, affecting from sports media to professional football clubs and also the numbers of people going to the gym to keep fit. The research attempts to expand our understanding of the mutualism now, and in the future, between sport and tourism and their joint importance as major drivers of the Scottish economy.

Several areas and key trends are explored to isolate what the sports tourist will be like in 2014, whether in a passive role as a spectator or as an active participant. Initially the historical perspective is provided explaining why sport and tourism has been naturally partnered by tourists in the past. There is discussion of why this partnering has evolved as a fundamental part of the Scottish tourism market in its various forms and events.

In a present day context the paper examines the reasons why consumers are motivated to take part in sport, the levels of sports participation, why team sports are losing popularity, whilst niche/extreme sports are becoming more attractive to the sports consumer. It is stated here that consumers are making a statement of their individuality and prompted by the desire to break through the boundaries of boring normality. Actual participation in extreme sports, motivation and risk taking are given closer inspection at a later stage in the paper.

The concern for individual health is highlighted and how these attitudes and demographic trends will shape sport and tourism towards 2014. The propensity of the image conscious and time pressured to seek out individual ‘convenience fitness’ at the gym. Sport as a health driver is looked at from different angles, that it is used to keep fit, keep looking good or is a ‘time-oasis’ activity.

The national preoccupation with watching sports is examined and evidence that spectators are not only interested in what happens on the field but also their après match activities reported in the media.

Scottish health is analysed and impacts of government policies promote healthy lifestyles are assessed. Predicted demographic trends show that the inexorable decline of the nuclear family continues and that there are an increasing number of ‘grey’ consumers of all sports, thus affecting levels of participation and types of events.

Sport and nationhood is linked more strongly by populations following large sporting events such as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. These instil a sense of community and togetherness whilst also boosting feelings of national identity. The paper considers the beneficiaries of sport and self-improvement, charities and volunteering.

Finally, the importance of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, as an economic driver of tourism and regeneration mechanism for Glasgow is discussed. Community engagement with the event and resulting increasing participation levels are being sought, creation of a legacy of facilities and services for the benefit of the community are explained. Cities hosting mega sporting events provide a complete package to satisfy the ever changing needs of the modern day sports tourist. In 2014 the sports tourist will be a very different consumer, looking for a consumer experience which justifies the time taken and expense made to attend these events.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
Specialist publicationTomorrow's World: Consumer and Tourist
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


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