Tourism has been classified as a strategic source of economic development and diversification for countries. It can be described as a sociocultural event for the host and the guest, “if tourism is to merit its pseudonym of being ‘the hospitality industry’, it must look beyond its own doors and employees to consider the social and cultural impacts it is having on the host community at large.” (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010).
It has been noted that the fastest growth of the industry has been driven by the swift growth in areas such as sport tourism. (Nyikana, S., Tichaawa, T.M. & Swart, K., 2014). In fact, sport tourism can be considered as a niche in recent years due to sport’s capability to add to tourism’s role in urban redevelopment. Many first and third world countries have strategically used sport tourism to develop economies through hosting mega events.
This initiative has resulted in increased visitation and tourism income, boosted pride by the host city and communities as well as increased sport involvement and increased city visibility and enriched city image. (Nyikana, S., Tichaawa, T.M. & Swart, K., 2014).
The main purpose of the study conducted was to examine how residents of Indianapolis, Indiana perceived the impacts sport tourism has upon their city. A total of 347 surveys were done revealing social and economic benefits as strong analysts for support for additional sport tourism growth.
It has been reported that Indianapolis, Indiana, over the last decade has experienced a significant growth in tourism. Being the 13th largest city in the U.S. with a population of 876,000 people and a metropolitan area populace of approximately 1.6 million people, tourist attractions have increased over 273% since 1994; to roughly 16.5 million visits yearly with sport tourism being one of the main aspects. (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010). Indianapolis is rich in sport tourism activities which includes the Formula One Race, professional basketball and football franchises, the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard races and host to the NCAA women’s and men’s basketball tournaments.
While there are numerous empirical researches focusing on resident and tourist attitudes and observations of the impact of tourism there are inadequate empirical research on the social impact of sport tourism on local host communities. By studying the impacts of sport tourism, which have started increasing, can assist policymakers in enriching the quality of life for the community and also increase the prospect for resident support for tourism growth. Pearce, 1998, as cited by Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010; stated that the inclusion of the residents’ and the business owners’ opinions regarding development should be taken into consideration to avoid delays in construction due to protests, loss of support for tourism development, an reluctance to work in the industry and a lack of interest to endorse tourism.
The social, environmental, and economic impacts must be observed and brought to a satisfactory level for residents, visitors and business interests to ensure a sustainable tourism destination according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (2004).
Taking into account the multiuse stadium in 2005, which the Indiana General Assembly passed in legislation to provide funding for the $48 million stadium. The city officials were able to win over the public and private sectors by promising to keep the pro football franchise, the Indianapolis Colts in the city, they passed a 2% food and beverage tax, and they were also able to pass a 1% food and beverage tax to six of the seven counties nearby. The residents gave their support for the structure after they understood they were experiencing an economic boom. (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010).
The purpose of the study was to answer two questions. Firstly, are the perceived impacts of sport tourism such as social, environmental and economic, predictors for further sport tourism development? And secondly, were there any differences in the perceived impacts of sport tourism as it relates to the demographics of the Indiana Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA) members. (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010).
Sport tourism, for the purpose of the study conducted, is defined as, “each form of active and passive contribution in sporting pursuits, participated in casually or in an structured way for non-commercial or business/commercial reasons that require travel away from home and work locality.” (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010).
Past research conducted by Walo, Bull and Bree (1996) reported that there were economic gains by the residents through sporting events and Soutar and McLeod (1993) found that the opinions of the residents were extremely different after the America’s Cup Defense in Fremantle, Australia was hosted. It has been noted however; that much of the past research looked at smaller towns and rural areas, not much attention was paid to urban tourism destinations. (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010).
The paper discussed the social exchange theory that is a social psychological and sociological perspective, which depicts social change as a method of negotiated interactions between groups or individuals. This paradigm suggests that persons engage in collaboration or interchange with other people because they expect to obtain benefits or incentives from the other party. Based on the perceptions of the benefits and costs, residents and the business community would decide whether to support or not support tourism development, as they are aware of the positive and negative implications of tourism. (Hritz, N., Ross, C., 2010).
Hritz and Ross, 2010, collected their information using a sample study of roughly 1,245 members of the Indiana Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA), the members of ICVA are also residents of the Indianapolis community. These members receive training and information via newsletters, press releases and information that is routinely updated on the ICVA’s website, through this influx of information they are able to identify the different types of tourism and identify sport tourists in their city. The three types of tourism that was recognized clearly from one another were cultural tourism, convention tourism, and sport tourism.