Global wholesale tour operator G2 Travel has birthed a new business division, G2 Sport, to provide end-to-end products and service in sports tourism, which it said would benefit travel agents as well as sports organisations and associations in a fragmented market.
Building on G2 Travel’s land service expertise and presence in 54 cities worldwide, the new business division will be able to pull off a range of activities for sports organisations and associations, such as training camps and tournaments; support sponsors and federations in travel programmes; and assist wholesale customers in providing travel services for FITs and groups looking to attend sports events.
G2 Sport, which is a Certified Partner Member of the International Sports Travel Agencies Association, will also handle touristic requirements, such as excursions and sightseeing, for sports teams and athletes. Support will include a 24-hour customer care team.
Al Mulenga, director of G2 Travel, Hong Kong office, told TTG Asia that the current fragmented sports tourism industry meant that travel agents engaged by sports organisations and associations had to conduct extensive research on their own to deal with unique requests.
He believes that a sports tourism specialist with a global footprint, like G2 Sport, can remedy the situation.
Mulenga said this was an opportune time to launch G2 Sport, as sporting events are starting to make a comeback in the US and Europe.
“Events have been mostly cancelled during the last 17 months. After that, we had events with no fans. Now, there is pent-up demand for athletes and fans to watch live events again, as more of the population becomes vaccinated,” he said.
While sports tourism is awakening in the West, recovery is slower in Asia-Pacific. Despite being one of the first high-profile sporting events to resume in Singapore, the HSBC Women’s World Championship 2021 in April admitted only 250 guests as in-person spectators in consideration of safe distancing needs. At the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, overseas spectators have been banned.
Despite the current situation, Mulenga maintains that G2 Sport will “have to keep an eye on Asia always, as it is the biggest market in the long run”.
“For Asia, we need to invest more in our inbound capabilities, which we are doing gradually as we roll out our FIT offering,” he shared.
He added that destinations and communities have much to gain from successful sports tourism, as sports ultimately lead to culture exchange and interest in destinations that are showcased during competitions.
“We also know that sports lead to massive changes in society as people start to opt for healthier lifestyle. Case in point is Indonesia, where hosting the 2018 Asian Games had encouraged people in Jakarta to jog and ride bikes throughout the city. City planners (have thus) created bicycle lanes. This eventually promotes a healthier population and a better environment.”
Looking forward, Mulenga sees opportunities arranging cycling tours from Asia to Europe, especially Holland, as well as trekking tours in Switzerland.