Sports ETA in the USA releases its 2021 “State of the Industry” report

US-based Sports ETA released its annual State of the Industry report which shows that sport events generated US$39.7 billion spending impact generating a total economic impact of close to US$92 billion for the United States, despite the pandemic.

Sports ETA is the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry in the USA. It is a trusted resource for sports commissions, destination marketing organizations (DMOs), and sports event owners. Sports ETA is committed to the success of more than 600 member organizations and 2,500 sports event professionals.

Early May, the association released its annual State of the Industry Report for 2021 resulting in the sports tourism sector’s direct spending impact of US$39.7 billion which generated a total economic impact of US$91.8 billion, supporting 635,000 full-time and part-time jobs and generating US$12.9 billion in taxes.

Sports ETA in the USA releases its 2021 "State of the Industry" report
(Photo: Sports ETA)

The association’s last research report, “2019 State of the Sports Tourism Industry Report in America presented by the Sports Events and Tourism Association in partnership with the Northstar Meetings Group” was released in 2020 to benchmark 2019, and concluded that U.S. sports-related travellers, event organizers and venues spent a total of US$45.1 billion in 2019, an increase of over 5% from the previous year. Those travellers generated US$103.3 billion in direct, indirect and induced business sales.

The study was led by Dr. Jennifer Stoll, who leads research efforts for Sports ETA, in partnership with Northstar Meetings Group, a multi-platform brand for dedicated meeting and business planners and sports event organizers. The company is also the sponsor of the association’s “Annual State of the Industry” research report.

The analysis draws on various data sources to quantify sports tourism, which includes adult and youth amateur events and collegiate tournaments:

  • Sports ETA: destination membership survey data
  • Longwoods International: traveller survey data, including spending and visitor profile characteristics for sports tourism in the USA
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics: employment and wage data, by industry
  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics: U.S. domestic average itinerary fares
  • U.S. Travel Association: domestic travel data
  • STR: lodging data
  • Sports attendance data

“Our annual State of the Industry report shows that the sport tourism industry has an economic impact of US$91.8 Billion supporting 635,000 jobs in our member communities across America,” confirmed Al Kidd, President & CEO of Sports ETA.

Additional major findings in the 2021 State of the Industry Report include:

  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled or delayed sports events across the country and those events that took place had fewer spectators per participant. Ultimately, the number of sports travellers decreased 46.5% year-over-year to 96 million in 2020. The sector rebounded quickly in 2021 increasing 82.0% year-over-year. The 175 million sports travellers in 2021 was only 2.6% lower than the high-water mark established in 2019.
  • Sports travellers, event organizers, and venues spent US$9.7 billion on transportation, US$8.4 billion on lodging, and US$7.5 billion on food and beverages. Recreation, retail, and tournament operations rounded out spending, registering US$5.3 billion, US$5.0 billion, and US$3.7 billion, respectively. The lodging sector accounted for 21% of all sports-related travel spending. In 2021, sports-related travel generated 66.5 million room nights, which is an important factor given that hotel taxes are a primary funding source for many entities.

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