February 21st, 2020

Business Beat: The economic value of sports tourism and events

By Kara Brake on December 4, 2019.

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Canada Black captain Shane Wright scores on Canada White goaltender Tyler Brennan during the third period of a World Under-17 Hockey Challenge round robin game at the Canalta Centre on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. According to the Medicine Hat Sport and Event Council the estimated economic impact to our community of hosting an event like this ranges between $4-8 million.

With 2019 coming to an end, it is exciting to review what has happened over the last 12 months in Medicine Hat. This past year our community held more than 70 tournaments, events, festivals and conferences, all bringing outside visitors to Medicine Hat and the surrounding area.

Sport and event tourism is the fastest growing sector of the global travel industry bringing nearly $1 billion in economic activity to Alberta each year. The hosting of tournaments, events, festivals and conferences bring outside money to Medicine Hat each and every year which helps support our economy and local businesses.

A recent example is the hosting of the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. We saw players, coaches, staff, families, spectators, scouts and many others travel to Medicine Hat to take in the 12 games hosted at the Canalta Centre. The estimated economic impact to our community of hosting an event like this ranges between $4-8 million. Local businesses saw an increase of activity over the eight days and welcomed spectators from all over the world. More than 26,000 tickets were scanned making 2019 the second most attended tournament within the last five years.

If you went to a restaurant, gas station, retail store, or really anywhere outside your home during the tournament, you most likely noticed the increase in the number of people in our community. Our local business community does such an amazing job of supporting these events. We saw restaurants preparing quick meals to feed spectators between games, welcoming visitors in different languages, and creating special meals to offer during the tournament. Hotels displayed welcome signs for the players and families from across the world. Retail stores and outlets displayed posters and banners supporting the tournament.

This is important because when we support events like this, good things happen. As our community shows itself as a welcoming host, then people enjoy visiting here. As we build a place people want to visit, we build a place where people want to live. The better experience we can provide, the more likely we are to host other similar events. Hockey Canada has since recommended we continue to bid on similar events and they are looking forward to working with us in the future in other various events.

This is just one of the many examples of current and upcoming events and the amount of activity they bring to our community.

These events are essential to the success of our local businesses and local economy. Medicine Hat has a reputation of successfully hosting events. We have the volunteers, sponsors and community support that allows us to continue to host these major events. Our local sport and event organizations love hosting events and we are looking forward to the many more events, bids and announcements that we will see in 2020.

Kara Brake is a member of the Medicine Hat Sport and Event Council.

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