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Sports Tourism: What It Is and How to Do It Best

There are many ways to travel that fit all types of budgets and tastes. There is low-budget adventurous backpacking, all-inclusive tourist resorts, and even niche traveling like gastronomic tourism. One of these types of tourism targeted to a specific audience is sports tourism – and it might just be the perfect fit for you.

Why do sports tourism?

What is sports tourism? The short answer is that it’s an industry that’s rapidly growing, valued at billions of dollars across the globe. The term incorporates both teams and their entourage traveling for games and fans taking trips to attend a sports event. And as fellow travelers, we are mainly interested in the second type of leisure sports tourism.

Fans tend to travel far to support their favorite team and by doing so they have a positive financial impact on local economies. Sports tourism is also great for the sports enthusiasts themselves, as this means that besides attending the event they traveled for, they will also spend some time exploring a new city and perhaps even travel to a nearby urban center.

If you are not an avid supporter of a particular team or mad about tennis or football, then sports tourism might still have a place for you. Sports and especially competing professionally holds such special value for local communities that attending a sporting event while you travel is one of the best ways to explore a new culture. This is evident when you think that not all countries cherish the same sports. In the US, the Super Bowl is a major event. But over in Europe, everyone calls football “American football” and they obsess over soccer instead, which doesn’t have many fans in North America.

Different nations around the world avidly support a range of different sports. As Asiabet explains, gamblers across Asia love sports, ranging from football and basketball to baseball and cricket. Punters in Thailand love Thai soccer, with League 1 games between teams such as Buriram United and Bangkok United drawing great interest, while in India, it is cricket games on the Indian Premier League that are most popular. And if you are feeling in sync with our millennial culture, the South East Asian region is a global hub for eSports, including Dota 2 and Clash Royale. So, even if you don’t play video games, why not catch a glimpse at how the sports industry is evolving and incorporating eSports by spending a few hours at an eSports tournament? This would be particularly interesting for an immersive travel experience in countries like South Korea and Japan, where the eSports industry is astonishingly strong.

Which sports to watch across the world

So, which sports should you aim to see in each region – and where would you catch the best games? If you are new to the US, a trip to any NBA game is an absolute must. The way basketball is played in the US is very different from what fans are used to in the rest of the world. If you catch a game during the playoffs in particular, where teams fight to secure a spot at the NBA finals, you will see a vibrant game packed with action on the court and passion across the crowds watching. Several major US cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have their own teams and stadiums and it is easy to find tickets for every budget.

If you are headed towards Australia and New Zealand, then rugby is the sport to watch. The New Zealand national rugby team is well-known internationally for performing the haka before each match. This ceremonial dance traditionally associated with battle preparations in Māori culture is designed to boost morale for the team and intimidate opponents. Although it is now also used as a sign of welcome and respect for guests or during special occasions, the haka dance by the All Blacks remains a powerful sight to behold.

If you are traveling across India, then a cricket match is your best bet for understanding local culture, and the same is true for baseball in Japan. Across Europe, soccer remains the undeniable king of sports. The games in the national leagues in Spain, England and Italy are the most interesting to watch. The rivalry between Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona is legendary and they have probably the best team rosters compared to any other club. Even if you don’t happen to catch a game, a guided tour through Barcelona’s home, Camp Nou, will take you through the history and achievements of the club and allow you to understand its special value for Spanish and Catalan culture.

Don’t forget – if you would rather do sports and fitness activities than watch a football or cricket game, then you can also check out the best fitness vacation spots in the world.

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