Tracking the return to play

EventConnect points to an uptick in youth and amateur sports tournament registrations as a positive sign for the sport tourism sector

Photo: April Walker on Unsplash

LOOKING FOR A  sign of the pandemic’s end? Look no further than the return of travel tournaments for youth sports, which according to London-based sports tourism management software firm EventConnect, are set to return in droves this fall.

“Many tournaments are returning, and teams are not only registering, but registering early,” the company says in a release. “There is a renewed confidence in the return of youth sports and willingness for parents and players to travel again.”

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This will come as extremely welcome news, particularly to the lodging industry. EventConnect, which partners with more than 4,000 events and 20,000 hotels in over 800 cities across North America, found that people are booking further in advance on average for tournaments — 40 days, compared to 26 last year.

This is not just a Canadian trend either, but a pan-North American one. “Since February, teams are consistently booking more room reservations per team and they are staying over two-thirds of a day longer than in 2020,” the company writes in their quarterly report.

“These data points could be due to events trying to catch up on lost time with longer tournaments, or it could coincide with the significant uptick happening in the leisure travel market right now, as tournament-goers extend their sports tourism trips for mini vacations and leisure purposes.”

Tracking the return to play EventConnect Sports & RecreationEventConnect CEO, John D’Orsay

Overall, the news is a positive sign for youth sports, which has taken a hit through the pandemic. One recent study found that one in three Canadian kids weren’t sure if or when they would be returning to youth sports; a full 20 per cent were planning not to return at all.

“The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all Canadians, but this concerning data suggests that our sport community needs to do everything we can to support the long term welfare of Canadian youth, by remaining engaged in sport,” Dan Wilcock, President and CEO of the Canada Games Council, told TSN earlier this spring. “The benefits of sport are clear in developing the next generation of Canadians, but many thousands of Canadian youth appear at risk of missing out on those physical and mental benefits coming out of the pandemic.”

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“It’s been a busy last few weeks, with lots of positive news we are hearing around Canadian events looking to confirm their dates and the teams eager to register,” says John D’Orsay, EventConnect’s CEO. “It is encouraging to see early registrations happening in Canada since there has been pent-up demand for youth and amateur sporting events to return.”

Sandra de Graaff, director of domestic competitions at Volleyball Canada, adds, “It has been a tough two years of missed volleyball championships, but we are thankful to have the use of EventConnect, which has been very flexible and helped us with team reimbursements and travel credits. We look forward to our championships next May, which are the largest in Canada, and the EventConnect platform will be invaluable with their connections and knowledge to coordinate the hotel bookings to save our teams time and money.” Tracking the return to play EventConnect Sports & Recreation Kieran Delamont

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