Tourism All-Stars Court Sporty Travelers
When LeBron James recently announced his decision to play for the Miami Heat next season, the press and the fans went wild—but perhaps no group was more elated than the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The CVB is hoping this NBA coup will attract more visitors—particularly international visitors—to South Florida.
It’s not the first time a destination has leaned on an all-star athlete to be a tourism MVP by promoting the area’s draws. Soccer star and Los Angeles transplant David Beckham currently appears in a TV commercial promoting California travel; basketball legend Michael Jordan helped put Chicago on the map as a major destination in the 1980s and ’90s.
An influx of spectators isn’t unique to US sports-star towns: according to the UK’s Independent, sports tourism is the “fastest growing sector of the global travel and tourism industry,” with the World Cup and the Olympics representing just two highlights of sporty travelers’ calendars. ESPN even devotes an entire section of its website to travel.
I’ve never chosen a destination based on whom I could see play there, but then again, I’m far from a devoted sports nut. Have you or anyone you know planned a trip around a player or team? And do you think having LeBron on the court at American Airlines Arena will help lift Miami’s tourism industry?
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member raymond longaray
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.