The MP for Shoshong, Phillip Makgalemele, has tabled a motion calling on the government to develop a sports tourism policy as a strategy to complement economic diversification.
Presenting the motion on Friday, Makgalemele who is a former football administrator, said since the late 1980s, sports tourism had become increasingly popular around the world.
He said events such as the Rugby World Cup, the Olympics, the Asian Games and the Soccer World Cup had enabled specialist travel companies to gain official ticket allocation and sold packages that included flights, hotel bookings and excursions.
In Botswana, travel companies started arranging travel packages and excursions since the performance of the senior national soccer team improved, Makgalemele said.
He told Parliament that sports tourism was the most developed sector of the tourism industry and was regarded as a multi-billion Pula trading enterprise. It was also considered as an effective tool to deal with poverty and unemployment. "Major tourism destinations are developing tourism product concepts revolving around pleasure sports, said Makgalemele.
"These concepts enable destinations to stand out amongst their competitors and increase their competitive edge in the international arena, attracting consumers who are keen on getting in touch with nature, interacting with the community to enjoy more interactive holidays."
He noted that economies of cities, countries and regions around the world were increasingly reliant on the visiting golfer and skier or the travelling football, rugby or cricket supporter. In other countries, he said, sports accounted for as much as 24 percent of all tourism receipts.
Makgalemele said over the last decade, trends had shown that sports tourism was emerging as a very significant segment of the global tourist market. Over the last 10 years, the global sports industry had seen rapid changes and innovations fuelled by a range of factors such as increased leisure time and spending. Makgalemele said while sport tourism in South Africa was yet to be established more visibly, sports made up four percent of that country's domestic tourism market.
This followed the launching of South Africa Sports Tourism (SAST) by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Ministry of Sports and Recreation in 1997 after sports tourism was identified as an avenue for the development and promotion of tourism by a study.
The Shoshong MP said in the case of the US, the Travel Industry Association of America had found that in the past five years, 38 percent of US adults attended an organised event, competition or tournament as a spectator or participant.
According to the British Tourist Authority as many as 20 percent of tourist trips were for the prime purpose of sports participation while 50 percent of holidays included incidental sports participation, he noted.