Opinion

Editorial: Sports tourism worth cheering

The B.C. Summer Games can’t be measured by a medal count. The Games were made up, too, of sportsmanship, teamwork, friendships, great plays, record times, personal bests, celebrations, cheers and most of all, moments.

Maybe we can measure the Games in dollars and cents. The B.C. Games Society estimates an economic impact of $2.6 million to summer host cities.

The City of Nanaimo is aware of what sport tourism brings to town. After tracking statistics for five years, the municipality shuffled its sport tourism strategy, handing over the file to Tourism Nanaimo. The arms-length body will now be entrusted with apportioning sport tourism funding, and will look at ways to get tournament-goers to make return trips to the Harbour City.

Some say we don’t have the fields, arenas and stadiums to go for gold when it comes to sports tourism. It’s true that certain tournaments are beyond our capacity. But we can – and do – put on countless small-scale tourneys that keep people coming back to Nanaimo every year, and it all adds up.

We proved this past week that we can reach higher sometimes – we put on a wonderful B.C. Summer Games. Every event was well-attended. Travel-weary parents might give certain tournaments a pass, but they simply don’t miss the B.C. Games. While they were in our city they witnessed special moments on the field of play, and consciously or unconsciously, athletes and their families will relate Nanaimo with those experiences. Those moments are hard to quantify, but they matter. We already knew Nanaimo is the place to be, but thousands of beaming visitors reminded us of that this past week.

Next month we’ll get some actual dollar estimates of the Games impacts, and we expect to be talking big bucks. There’s no question we earned it, as thousands of hard-working volunteers can attest. But we did it, and we’d do it again, and we should already be looking for the next sport tourism opportunity. We’re game.

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