ITB China: Chinese sports travel market expected to grow by 25-30 % over the coming three years

Published on : Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Sports travel is a fast-growing sector as recent findings of the ITB China Travel Trends Report revealed. ITB China’s survey among Chinese buyers of sports travel products shows that the market is expected to grow by 25-30 percent over the coming three years.


According to the market survey result from 300 Chinese outbound travel agents, sports travel is expected to reach RMB 1.5 trillion by 2020 according to interviewed industry experts. Despite the growing interest and an increasing purchase power, the difficulty involved in securing tickets to events poses significant barriers for travelers – making ticket arrangements a field in which travel agencies and package providers have a critical role.


The ITB China Travel Trends Report is a yearly publication commissioned by ITB China and conducted by Kairos Future. The full report will be presented at ITB China, set to take place from the 15 to 17 May 2019 in Shanghai.


Sports trips are typically built around big sports events and there through exclusive in power of the irreproducible nature of every event. The opportunity to watch global sports stars perform live in important games is one the main factors attracting travelers. It is the on-site experience that sports travelers care most about – with the exciting experience being at the very core of a sports trip, no matter if a traveler is there to participate or to watch.


Interviewed buyers testify about a clear trend towards customized ‘a la carte’ packages: travelers pick add-on experiences according to taste. Packages might include activities that bring travelers closer to a sport, to a team, or to sports stars. For some travelers, choosing between a trip for doing or watching sports is not good enough. Despite the demand, however, there are few packages on the market today that in this way combine those two.


Several interviewees point out that stars are a key factor attracting travelers to attend sports events. With many sports travelers opting to attend overseas events for seeing the stars or teams they are fans of in action in important championships, there is a significant market also for side experiences that bring travelers closer to the teams and the stars.


‘Local activities’ is the most important component for Chinese travelers going on a sports trip, according to the surveyed travel agents. Those activities include experiences that are not sports-related as components in sports travel packages, for increasing the diversity of a tour and appealing to those in a travel group who are not as big sports fans as others. Families with children are a traveler segment on the rise, meaning an increasing demand for child-friendly activities as part of sports trips. 72 percent of the surveyed travel companies, however, agree that most sports travel groups are groups of friends.


NBA basketball and World Cup football are immensely popular championships among Chinese sports fans. Among Chinese sports travelers, however, the European football leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are the most popular to attend. Apart from these, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship are expected to be the top events among Chinese sports travellers over the next couple of years.



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