Recently, our research discovered that over 1,000 sport events were held in regional areas of Australia between January and December 2014. While the media stories on mud runs and extreme sport events promote the popularity of more diverse sport events, the search found that most sport events were in traditional areas of running (marathons, half marathons), sailing (regattas, championships) and triathlon. However the nature-based environments in regional areas are also popular locations for events in shooting (clay and target) and paddling (rowing, dragonboat and kayaking). A total of 44 sports were found including championships for less well known sports such as croquet, rogaine and frisbee.
Running events were clearly the most popular representing 25% of all regional sport events in that year. This follows the trends for increased participation in marathons – also the increasing diversity of both the types of running events (mud runs, colour runs, neon runs, parkrun) and location (ultra marathons, desert marathons). While city marathons are the most popular in terms of the number of registered competitors, marathons held in regional areas can develop to become their own signature event for regions like the Gold Coast Marathon, with 5,616 entrants, or specific towns like Wangaratta Marathon (103 entrants).
Media coverage of sport events in regional areas can be highly beneficial both for the sport and for the destination, with an event like Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IronMan Series and Telstra Iron Woman Series generating an estimated Combined publicity value of more than $5.5 million. Apart from the important publicity, the influx of visitors assists in providing an economic boost to regional areas, especially when sport events can be clustered to create sport event destinations. In 2013, the Mooloolaba and Noosa triathlons and the PGA golf championship were expected to contribute more than $36 million to the Sunshine Coast, attracting almost 88,000 people to the area.
Destination Research continues to assist sport event managers and sponsors to evaluate the tourism, economic and recreational value of the event to the event and the wider community.
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