The Sports Tourism Trend Is On The Rise. Here's How To Plan Your Trip

Several factors go into choosing a vacation destination — the weather, local costs, the cuisine, famous landmarks... But for some sports fanatics, one thing trumps everything else: where their favorite athletes will be.

According to The World Tourism Organization, sports tourism — travel centered on sports events and culture — is "one of the fastest-growing sectors in tourism," expected to grow 17.5% between 2023 and 2030. The trend follows the COVID-19 pandemic when diehard fans were forced to stay home instead of cheering on their teams from the stands. Major competitions, such as the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics (which was delayed until 2021), were carried out with limited or no live audiences, while other events didn't go on at all. And besides the pandemic's impact on sports fans, wanderlusters, too, had to postpone their dream getaways until travel restrictions were lifted and borders reopened.

Now that tourism is bouncing back and sporting events have returned to their regular schedules, travelers are looking to combine the two during their vacations. If you refuse to wait on the travel sidelines for another year, grab your passport and face paints and start planning your trip.

The Summer Olympics, Euro 2024, and other events are perfect for sports-minded tourists

Arguably, the most anticipated sporting event in the world is the Olympics, and in 2024, Paris will host the Summer Games. The competitions will take place between July 26 and August 11 and include a range of sports, including surfing, golf, basketball, sailing, and skateboarding. The Games are a chance to participate in history, both for sports enthusiasts and those looking to support their national teams. Paris, already a travel destination, is likely to welcome an additional 3 million international tourists traveling to the Olympics, according to Euromonitor International.

Euro 2024, kicking off this summer in Germany, is another highly anticipated event set to draw massive crowds of tourists. Senator for Sports Iris Spranger revealed that Berlin, one of the hosting cities, will see 2.5 million visitors during the soccer championship (via

While there's no shortage of summer sporting events (the U.S. Open at North Carolina's Pinehurst Resort, Wimbledon in England, and the IAAF World Athletics Championships U20 in Peru are just a few other examples), opportunities for sports tourism are abundant all year round. Visitors to South Korea in February can watch the World Table Tennis Championships in person, for instance, and in the fall, travelers can take in Bangladesh's historical sites and stunning beaches between cricket matches during the Women's T20 World Cup. Simply pick a sport or season, and you'll likely find an event to pair with your upcoming vacation.

Planning your trip

Planning a trip around a sporting event isn't much different from planning any other vacation, but there are a couple of points to keep in mind. First, you'll be competing with other sports devotees for flights and hotels, which can quickly drive up prices. CNBC reported that hotel rooms in Singapore cost travelers around $440 U.S. dollars per night during its 2023 Formula One races, despite the event taking place during a shoulder season. Similar price hikes are likely to occur during upcoming games and competitions around the world. To avoid breaking the bank, book early and consider staying outside of the host city when possible.

Don't forget to factor in the cost of event tickets, too. Seats at the finals are, predictably, generally pricier than early-competition tickets, so create a budget for what you're able to afford and plan your travel dates appropriately. For events that sell out quickly or are based on a lottery system, try to nab tickets before booking your flights and accommodation.

If you're not able to secure a spot at the match or tournament you had your hopes set on — or if you're simply not a fan of big crowds — get inspired by nostalgic sports tourism instead. Rather than catching a live sporting event, consider visiting a city that hosted a major event in the past. One example is Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics and home to the historic Panathenaic Stadium.