Rural Towns, Great Places for Sports Tourism Events

by Joanne Steele on September 11, 2009

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This morning I came across a news item in my Google Alerts about a sports tourism event in rural Conway, South Carolina that pertains to the series on extending tourism into your shoulder season.

(See, Marketing First Aid: 6 Things To Do When September Tourism Business Drops Off a Cliff and Creating a Successful Tourism Business Shoulder Season for 2010.)

The Conway, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a half-marathon. Fall weather is generally good in much for the country for sports tourism events like this. And runners are passionate enough to travel a reasonable distance for a well-organized event.

The Mt. Shasta July 4th Fun Run and Walk attracts thousands. Runner Magazine has declared it one of America's best small town races

The Mt. Shasta July 4th Fun Run and Walk attracts thousands. Runner Magazine has declared it one of America's best small town races.

To ensure that the event has all the features that runners expect, Conway is working with an events company that specializes in running events. That is wise, but not always necessary.

For a great sports event, start by contacting the people in your town who are active in the sport. They are the key:

1. They understand the needed components for a successful event in their sport. Maybe they’ll suggest getting outside help as Conway did. But maybe their advice will be that your town can handle all the details.

2. They provide a ready source of volunteers to make it happen.

3. They are a great resource for marketing the event.

There are three sports events that had a significant impact on tourism in Siskiyou County, California where I was formerly tourism director. The Mt. Shasta July 4th Fun Run and Walk, The Mt. Shasta Summit Century Bike Ride and the Siskiyou Century Bike Ride.

This weekend, a local cycling group and the Yreka Chamber are putting on the Siskiyou Century Bike Ride. After 22 years this race draws a consistent number of visitors to Yreka, and the work is handled by a team of experienced volunteers and organizations who have been doing it for years.

Sports tourism events are generally not spectator activities; they are created to draw athletes and their families. So as you contemplate whether a sports event is the best for your town, consider whether it will draw enough participants over a few years to make it worth the work.

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