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Sports tourism – potential awaits to be awakened

Update: 10-05-2024 | 15:19:50

Runners competing in Trang An Marathon 2023 (Photo: VNA)

Sports tourism is becoming a golden opportunity for Vietnam to seize in the context of more and more sports lovers choosing to participate in sports events and experience the natural beauty across all regions of the S-shaped country.

Mau Son Mount Paths 2024 is the first international mass sports tournament held in Lang Son with over 1,100 athletes. (Photo courtesy of the organising board)

A recent report by US-based Allied Market Research shows that Asia-Pacific is emerging as a region that will have a high growth rate in sports tourism because more and more sporting events are held here, attracting an increasing number of international athletes.

According to the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism, sports tourism has only boomed in Vietnam over the past 5-7 years, with typical products being tours designed to sell with marathons or those organised by tourism businesses for Vietnamese people to go abroad to watch the national football team’s matches.

Currently, the number of sports events is increasing in Vietnam. In running alone, there are currently about 80 marathon events held nationwide with different distances and terrains.

Since the beginning of 2024, dozens of marathons and half-marathons have been held, attracting a large number of athletes. These include Mau Son Mount Paths (Lang Son), Tien Phong Marathon (Phu Yen), VPBank VnExpress Marathon Ho Chi Minh City Midnight 2024 (Ho Chi Minh City), and THACO Marathon for Traffic Safety – Dien Bien Phu (Dien Bien). The races have many novel ideas to attract athletes and tourists such as running across scenic spots and areas with beautiful landscapes, or being organised at night.

Trailer of THACO Marathon for Traffic Safety – Dien Bien Phu (Photo courtesy of the organising board)

Paragliding is one of the favorite sports of international tourists in Vietnam.

In the photo: Tourists experience the beautiful scenery of terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai district, Yen Bai province. (Photo: VNA)

Sports tournaments in localities with complex mountainous terrain and beautiful scenery have now become an attractive feature of many localities. One of the most impressive running events is the Vietnam Ultra Marathon 2024 held in Lac hamlet, Chieng Chau commune, Mai Chau district, the northern mountainous province of Hoa Binh, with more than 2,200 athletes from 38 countries.

“Participating in the marathon in Mai Chau is not only a race, but also an experience of discovering new exciting lands. Along the running routes, athletes were immersed in beautiful scenery, and directly experienced the unique and charming local features. From exploring the trails that few people visit, to experiencing the local culture. Mai Chau has brought interesting and unforgettable memories to me and my friends,” said Athlete Michal Lesniak from Poland, who has won many major races in Europe and Asia.

Tourists take photos at a rice field in Mai Chau district, Hoa Binh province. (Photo: VNA)

Runners participating in Vietnam Ultra Marathon 2024 which is held for the first time in Mai Chau district, Hoa Binh province (Photo: VNA)

Earlier this year, the northern mountainous province of Son La also successfully organised the Vietnam Trail Marathon in Moc Chau district with a record number of participating athletes: 4,200. Not only did it welcome a large number of visitors when the tournament was held, Son La could also promote the beauty of its nature and people.

“Trail running brings extremely special emotions because athletes not only get to exercise, awaken their own potential, but also can immerse themselves in the majestic nature. That’s why athletes feel extremely happy,” said Nguyen Manh Hung, General Secretary of the Vietnam Athletics Federation.

Vietnam Trail Marathon 2024 sees a record number of participating athletes, with 4,200 athletes (Photo: VNA)

Runners competing in Vietnam Trail Marathon 2022. (Photo: VNA)

In March of this year, the UIM F1H2O World Championship, and the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship were organised in the coastal city of Quy Nhon in Binh Dinh province, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to Binh Dinh.

In fact, sports tourists often spend a lot on hotel rooms, restaurants and shopping and visiting tourist attractions. In addition, more and more professional teams are playing in international venues and fans want to follow them, allowing destinations to attract more attention from tourists.

Binh Dinh People’s Committee on March 28 holds a launching ceremony for two F1H2O Binh Dinh motorboats. (Photo: VNA)

Motorboats competing at UIM F1H2O World Championship (Photo: VNA)

Motorboats competing at UIM F1H2O World Championship (Photo: VNA)

According to Pham Ha, Chairman of Lux Group – a tourism development corporation, to turn sports into a key product of Vietnamese tourism, it is important to have thorough research and long-term orientations to build and upgrade infrastructure in a professional and modern direction.

Vietnam also needs to have an event promotion strategy to increase the opportunity to host more international sports events, and boost coordination between the tourism and sports sectors.

“To effectively exploit sports events, travel businesses need to create an information mechanism with the sports management side to grasp the event schedule as soon as possible to build suitable products,” said Director of Vplus Vietnam Travel and Event Joint Stock Company Nguyen Duc Anh.

Ha Long Bay – World Natural Heritage in Quang Ninh province. (Photo: VNA)

Tourists experience kayaking on Ha Long Bay (Photo: VNA)

Chairman of the Vietnam Society of Travel Agents Vu The Binh said that to attract tourists, travel agents need to design tours that include different activities. To do this, event organisers need to shake hands with tourism businesses to create rich product packages, helping athletes and their relatives have the best experience when coming to Vietnam.

The 13th stage of the 36th Ho Chi Minh City Television Cycling Tournament-HTV Cup starts on April 17, 2024 with a more than 88km distance from Da Nang city to Quang Nam province. (Photo: VNA)

Becoming a golf tourism destination is the goal of Vietnam’s tourism industry. In the photo: Golf activities within the framework of Ba Ria – Vung Tau Tourism Week 2023. (Photo: VNA)

Localities need to create open procedures in licensing the organisation of sports tournaments to serve tourism, and encourage travel companies to form alliances to sell products related to sports tourism.

To make sports tourism a key product, the sector needs to coordinate with localities, tourism businesses, service establishments and related parties, and have more incentive policies to attract more and more sports-loving tourists to Vietnam./.

Heart-shaped tea hill – the finish line of the 2024 Vietnam Trail Marathon. (Photo: VNA)

VNA

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