The mar­ket for sports tourism races ahead in China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TRAVEL - By YANG FEIYUE

Li Xia has been trav­el­ing around to keep up with ma­jor marathon events at home and abroad.

He has been to such Chi­nese cities as Yad­ing in Sichuan prov­ince and Yu­men in Gansu prov­ince, and Ja­pan and the United States to run.

“I don’t re­ally care about the re­sults, and I just want to en­joy run­ning and have fun along the way,” says Li.

Many like Li now travel to take part in or watch sports events.

The num­ber of trav­el­ers who booked sport tourism prod­ucts through Tu­niu, a ma­jor on­line travel agency in the main­land, surged 150 per­cent in 2016 over the pre­vi­ous year, the travel agency says.

Sports tourism cov­ers hik­ing, cy­cling and marathons and the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

First-tier cities in China have be­come a ma­jor source of out­bound trav­el­ers for sports tourism, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Shang­hai, Bei­jing and Nan­jing in Jiangsu prov­ince top the list.

White-col­lar work­ers are a ma­jor force, ac­count­ing for 53 per­cent of those opted for sport tourism.

Li­jiang, Dali, Kun­ming, the Diqing Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, Xishuang­banna in Yun­nan prov­ince, Hangzhou in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, Xin­ing in Qing­hai prov­ince, Sanya in Hainan prov­ince, and Er­dos and Ho­hhot are the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for hik­ing and Where they come from cy­cling, Tu­niu re­ports.

Travel mostly spans four to six days and costs around 2,000-4,000 yuan ($297-$594).

The sports tourism mar­ket has po­ten­tial, ex­perts say, as it only ac­counts for 5 per­cent of the tour- ism mar­ket in China, while the fig­ure is 20 per­cent in de­vel­oped coun­tries.

The global sports tourism mar­ket is now grow­ing at 14 per­cent an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion, and by 2020, the mar­ket is ex­pected to cross $400 bil­lion.

Mean­while, a bunch of tourism towns fea­tur­ing sports el­e­ments have sprung up or are com­ing down the pike.

The Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sports jointly ap­proved 30 sports tourism fa­cil­i­ties in late June, and by 2020, a to­tal of 100 sports tourism des­ti­na­tions will be built, with 100 sports events and 100 sports tourism routes to be de­vel­oped.

The num­ber of sports trav­el­ers from China is ex­pected to reach 1 bil­lion by then, ac­count­ing for 15 per­cent of the tourism pie. And sports tourism ex­pen­di­ture is likely to cross 1 tril­lion yuan by then,

Shang­hai Bei­jing Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince Tian­jin Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince I don’t re­ally care about the re­sults, and I just want to en­joy run­ning and have fun along the way.” Li Xia, marathon run­ner who trav­els do­mes­ti­cally and abroad to par­tic­i­pate in sport­ing events

ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sports.

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