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Enticing more people to come into the area could provide for more economic development, because some of the tourists would likely decide to relocate there - and a growing number of residents would also bring in more businesses and a better economy for those residents.
Having sport tourism as part of the "scene" in Belfast could attract sports teams wanting to make that their home base.
Anyone who is a promoter for sports events and can bring in a lot of tourism with those events will likely get booked for other things, providing more business.
There is a lot of money that can be made when it comes to the merchandising of the event.
There are threats with any endeavor, and when it comes to sport tourism in Belfast these threats include:
There may not be enough people interested in a specific sport (or interested in sports at all) who live in the area or are willing to travel there.
People may not have the funds to engage in sport tourism with the economy experiencing some trouble, even if they wanted to travel to Belfast.
It is possible that the promoter and the other people who are involved in the event will not be aware of everything that is necessary in order to see success from the sport tourism event.
It is possible the city is simply not the correct place for a particular type of sport tourism event or idea.
Not everyone will be able to afford the trip, and those who can may decide it is too far (or in some other way too inconvenient) to travel.
The more people are collected in one place, the more chance there will be some type of crime occurring.
If people are not carefully prepared it would be easy to run out of places where people can stay, food they can enjoy, and souvenir items they want to purchase for themselves and for others.
Volunteers for the Event
It is not difficult to get people to volunteer for something that is very important to them, but there is no way to determine whether there will be enough volunteers in Belfast for sport tourism without analyzing the situation. Because sport tourism often involves large and heavily-advertised events, many volunteers are needed to run them. Without volunteers, there is a serious question of viability (Gibson, 1998; Hall, 1992). Such a large number of people are needed that there is no way they could all be paid for their services. When people volunteer that helps to take the financial burden off the event and gives those who want to help out and contribute a way to do so (Backer, 1973; Beer & Nohria, 2000). There are times when volunteers will help out simply because it is benefitting their city or other people in some way, but most often they volunteer because they have a passion for something that matters strongly to them (Blau, 1993; Tonnessen, 2000).
In order to motivate people to volunteer for sport tourism events in Belfast, one must find out what those people want (Smith, 2001). They need an "anchor" that makes them feel as though they are doing something significant and valuable (Schein, 1978). For some people these kinds of anchors are more prevalent in their careers, but there are also many times they are seen in other aspects of their lives, such as their hobbies and their families (Schein, 1985). Volunteering can be an extension of that, and can be something they are very interested in because it shows them how they can help their community and provide value to others around them. In turn, they will get value from that experience - especially if they have a passion for sports and want to see more sport tourism dollars come into their city (Hinch & Higham, 2004). With the rising popularity of sport tourism, it is no surprise that Belfast and its people would be interested in getting involved and bringing in more tourism revenue.
Some people will not want to volunteer because money is too important to them, but others are not as concerned with monetary value (Bedeian, 1993). This is good news for the sport tourism industry, as it relies heavily on volunteers to keep it going (Buford, 1993). When work is completed but money is not paid out, that is more money that can go for something else that simply cannot be acquired through the use of volunteers (Leonard, Beauvis, & Scholl, 1999). People meet one another and learn about one another in this way, too, which provides a greater sense of kinship and camaraderie in any city (Hinch & Higham, 2004; Smith, 2001). The closer people feel to one another the more they will be interested in doing to help one another. One of the advantages that Belfast has is the number of volunteer organizations that can be found within the UK. The promoters of any kind of sport tourism event could focus on those organizations in an effort to recruit volunteers and bring them into the sport tourism market. By doing this, more help will be acquired and the idea of sport tourism in Belfast will be closer to becoming a reality for all the citizens who have worked hard for it.
It is possible to find good volunteers in all kinds of places, and they can do much more than just set up tables or tents. Helping to brand the city and create a slogan for it can also be done with volunteer work, so that people who are considering sport tourism in Belfast will have something by which they can remember the city and what it has to offer. It is important that sport tourism is emphasized, but it is also important to be sure tourists who are not as interested in sports are not alienated. If they feel as though Belfast has become a "sports city," they may decide to go somewhere else for their holiday. There is no guarantee that the number of people coming to Belfast for sports tourism would outweigh the visitors who would not come to the city if they thought it was too closely focused on sports. To find a good balance, talk to those who enjoy sports but have many other passions, as well.
It does appear that sport tourism could be successfully undertaken in Belfast. The area is not without its share of problems, but that is true of any area in the UK or virtually anywhere else. Belfast has many caring people, and they are proud of their beautiful city and surrounding area. There are plenty of people there who enjoy sports, and that is a good thing for anyone who wants to bring sport tourism to the city. Volunteers also seem to be plentiful, which will help any sports tourism event save money that could be better used (and will be needed) elsewhere. There are many motivated people when it comes to volunteering (Chapman, n.d.). Often that comes from a love of sports, but it can also stem from the idea that they simply want to see their city successful.
The city is also big enough to support sport tourism. Some very small UK cities would not work well for that kind of endeavor, because they would be too little to support all the extra people coming into town. Any place that is going to consider sport tourism has to be aware that there will be a need for hotel rooms and restaurants, as well as campgrounds, shopping, and other facilities. If these become overwhelmed, it can be very upsetting for tourists and could even prompt them to leave or not to return in the future. Some overcrowding can be expected, but the city has to be large enough to be able to account for a larger number of people for a few days. Nearly every person in Belfast stands to benefit from sport tourism because it can bring so much to the city and open up many new opportunities for businesses and others in the city. Sports teams and those who love sports - either playing them or watching them - are not the only people who will see a benefit from sport tourism.
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Gammon, S. & Robinson, T. (2003). Sport and Tourism: A Conceptual Framework. Journal of Sport Tourism 8(1),…[continue]
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