As the vaccination programs advance all over Europe and the US, society's deconfinement is a reality, and with it comes the much-needed economic recovery. Sports and tourism are moving forward once again, after 18 months of vertiginous fall.
Assuming that the situation remains unchanged and that possible new waves of the pandemic will be halted, sporting events should be seen as a critical factor for the return of tourism.
As an example, in Portugal alone, in the first six months of 2020, the number of guests in hotels and local accommodation decreased by 64,1%, overnight stays contracted by almost 66%, and spending by non-residents decreased by 54,4%, significantly impacting the lives of individuals and companies that make their livelihood on tourism.
The situation is much better now in 2021, even if tourism has not yet returned to 2019 levels. According to the official bodies that study the phenomenon, such as the Portuguese Tourism Institute, the total recovery in the sector is not expected to happen until 2023.
The immediate future: what is changing in the sector
Sports in general and the sporting events sector, in particular, have suffered a significant shakeup, but are gradually coming back as live events with in-person audiences are once again possible - a dynamic fundamental to the tourism industry and society at large.
Considering the number of people that sports are capable of moving, resuming sports events play a central role in the promotion of tourist destinations and the economic recovery of cities - and even entire countries.
The agents' opinions in the field underline the importance of adequate support from public entities, both at the government and local and regional levels. By providing support, they are boosting the sporting events sector and treating and preventing the worsening of social problems associated with this pandemic, including issues related to mental health, such as anxiety and depression. It cannot be overemphasized that the nature of these events is vital to the health of populations: not only for their inherent physical and mental health benefits, both also in giving people a sense of community, belonging, and socialization.
Throughout these pandemic times, that portion of the sports sector that managed to endure financially has also seized the opportunity of digital transformation. Home sports and hybrid events - physical and digital - have developed and are likely here to stay, allowing for an added, different type of fan participation.
For this new wave of events, it's also relevant that brands and sponsors seek to be associated with safe and sustainable events - in social, environmental, and economic terms. Sports is the area par excellence that can provide that kind of return.
Rugby as an example
Many clubs and teams are currently resuming their activities. The 2021/2022 season is witness to the full swing return of the English rugby league, with the fans celebrating the return of their favourite players and teams to action.
The London Exiles, a 32 years old club based in southwest London, founded and chaired by Tim Edghill and currently coached by Mark Avis, is part of this fresh start. We at Move Sports are delighted to have been the hosts for the team's trip to Lisbon for a wonderful coming-back sports tour. While in Portugal, the team tested its ability in two friendly matches against Portuguese squads. The team didn't miss the chance to get acquainted with one of Portugal's mainstays: a wine tasting experience.
While on the subject of rugby, let's not forget the return of our very own Portugal Rugby Youth Festival (PRYF), the greatest youth rugby tournament in Europe. Collectively, we won the battle on the virus! Now it's time for dozens of Portuguese and international teams to battle over hundreds of matches in the U13, U15, U17, and U19 categories for the chance to hold up high the title of PRYF champion! This coming October 23-24, don't miss the action at the Lisbon University Stadium. And if you can't make it to Lisbon, follow the action on social media. See you there!