The process of “Bouncing Back” is definitely underway for sport tourism in Canada! And your STC COVID-19 Recovery Task Force has been hard at work on developing the response, recovery and resiliency pathway for the future of sport hosting in Canada.

From sport organizations at all levels, to tourism and destination marketing organizations, hotels, venues and the hospitality sector, the economic impact from COVID-19 has been deeply felt by all. But there are brighter days ahead!

Leaders from the sport tourism spectrum across the country have been contributing their time and expertise to assess the current state of affairs. The task force is defining how sport tourism can return safely and help contribute to communities, sport and business in all provinces and territories and for sport events from the local to international levels.

On the bright side, Canada remains a competitive market for hosting events. The recent decision by the NHL to bring players to Toronto and Edmonton as their hub cities is one more indication of our reputation, and the work that has been done by everyone involved to keep the spread of the virus as contained as possible. We are seeing RFPs for events in 2021 and beyond being circulated with the anticipation of hosting those events. And there is considerable effort to work together with the music and entertainment industries to use the collective leverage to support the return of audience-oriented activities.

Additional findings can be grouped into six key themes:

  • Economic feasibility and sustainability of sport tourism requires investment in both the response and the recovery to achieve resiliency for sport event bidding and hosting.
  • Significant work is required to ensure that event host organizations and venues achieve the operational readiness to submit winning bids and host quality events that elevate the hosting reputations of Canadian communities and our nation’s hosting reputation globally.
  • The entire sport tourism landscape requires support to ensure that collectively, we can effectively manage the safety, financial and reputational risk for all involved in bidding for and hosting sport events in Canada.
  • The participant and attendee experience at sport events in Canada will be different post-COVID-19. We have to creatively reimagine what the future event experience can be, in our venues, in our communities and exploring the destinations and cultures of our Provinces and Territories and Canada.
  • There is an opportunity to develop tools and resources that can be adapted and scaled by communities and organizations of all sizes to bid better and host sport events that impact all of Canada.
  • Sport tourism and the impacts of hosting events are not universally understood in Canada, particularly at the local level. Sport Tourism Canada and the entire network of professionals and volunteers who bid for and host sport events in Canada can proactively and purposefully tell the sport tourism story and its impact on business, sport, our communities and Canada.

What’s Next?

The next step for the Task Force includes the development of a strategy for sport tourism through the COVID-19 response/recovery to achieve resiliency. It will be completed by September. To achieve this milestone, Sport Tourism Canada will be working with sport organizations and sport hosting destinations to build the case for future support.

As the Task Force continues toward “Bouncing Back,” Sport Tourism Canada will also be developing a new tool for multi-sport and sport organizations at the national, provincial and local levels. The Sport Tourism Assessment Tool for Sport (STAT Sport) is currently in development and is scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2020.

As with STAT City, this tool will be based on the STC Sport Tourism Roadmap which charts the course for a planned and sustainable approach to both bidding for and hosting sport events at all levels.

Thanks to all of the destinations who completed the STAT City report. Your information provides excellent input for formulating plans and presenting data to our provincial and federal government partners.

Sport Tourism Canada looks forward to connecting with all members, stakeholders and future collaborators to ensure that our communities and sport events are ‘bouncing back’ when it is safe to do so!