“Sports events can accelarate tourism development if used successfully for the brand development of a destination,” Thessaloniki Tourism Organization President Voula Patoulidou said during the 1st World Sports Tourism Congress that took place in Lloret de Mar, Spain, during November 25-26.
Organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Catalan Tourism Agency (ACT), the congress focused on the unique capacity of the sector to promote sustainable and inclusive development, diversification and public-private partnership.
Referring to sports tourism as a fast growing sector, Patoulidou presented the sports experiences offered to travelers in Thessaloniki, as well as to the major sports events taking place in the northern port city every year including the “Alexander the Great International Marathon” and the “International Thessaloniki Night Half Marathon”.
1st World Sports Tourism Congress deemed a success
The 1st World Sports Tourism Congress featured more than 50 speakers – more than half of them in person – from Canada, Croatia, the United States, Spain, France, Wales, Italy and South Africa, among others.
Renowned experts and academics in sports tourism debated over two days on current and future trends in the sector and underlined the key role of sport for the development of a more sustainable and inclusive tourism.
During the opening ceremony, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said the tourism sector was ready to welcome tourists again, with the recovery of sports tourism playing an important role.
“An encouraging example is the gradual return of major sporting events, which is a major driver of the restart of tourism,” he said.
The congress was attended in person by some 350 participants, while more than 150 followed it online.