E-sports events could boost Asia’s tourism: experts

E-sport events came into focus at the recent Asian IR Expo in Macau, with conference panellists underlining the power such activities have in attracting younger travellers and driving a technology-forward economy in Asia.

A survey conducted by a researcher from University of Macau found that China’s Gen Z is digitally connected and adept at multitasking, and has a preference for casino games, e-sports, video games as well as lifestyle.

Hong Kong hopes to organise events such as e-sports and music festivals

Hong Kong-based e-sports organisation Talon Esports’ CEO Sean Zhang, said good connectivity within China and between China and its surrounding region could position Hong Kong and Macau as a hub for e-sports events and festivals.

However, Zhang cautioned that the right people who understand e-sports and video games are required to sell related events well, because these are part of fan culture and it may be challenging to understand the target audience.

He referenced US-based Dreamhack, which is renowned for its local area network (LAN) parties that blend e-sports and community interaction.

Jarrold Tham, co-founder and chief financial officer, Talon Esports, agrees that Asia has the potential to grow its e-sports events calendar.

He said: “Last September, Singapore had its first international tournament, which was a success. Tickets at US$400 were sold out, and 20,000 people were packed into the stadium. There are many competitions in South Korea that bring in a lot of people. We also had an event in Bangkok last month,” Tham detailed.

Every event (in different countries) has the potential to attract a different demographic and fan base, he opined.

Talon Esports is working with tourism boards to grow e-sport events in Asia.

Dreamhack’s director, Sylvia Cristina Amaya, said the company is working with regional experts, such as groups managing e-sports talents, to better understand the Asian audience.

“This is a new market for us,” Amaya said.

Dreamhack made its foray into Asia with a two-day mobile gaming event in May 2023.

Hai Ng, co-founding partner of Neomancer, opined that e-sports is not just a singular event, and there needs to be strategies to get people to keep coming back, such as engaging the community to create fans.

“The event just gets them here (to the destination) – what happens around (them), like local experiences and activities, are what’s going to bring them back,” Ng remarked.

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