The 2nd edition of the World Sports Tourism Congress (WSTC), organized by UNWTO, Government of Croatia through its Ministry of Tourism and Sport, and the Affiliate Member Croatian National Tourist Board, brought together experts and leaders from across the sports and tourism sectors, alongside representatives of destinations and businesses. Held under the theme “Tourism and Sports United for Sustainability”, the Congress focused on key issues such as sports tourism’s economic impact and its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
• The Congress ‘Tourism & Sports United for Sustainability’ addressed aspects such as
sports tourism’s economic impact, its contribution to the SDGs from the environmental,
social, and economic perspectives.
• The Forum lead the way in promoting collaboration between Governments and the
private sector, with a focus on sports tourism.
• Sports Tourism is complex and cross-cutting and requires public and private actors to work together following a strategic and coordinated approach.
• For tourists, sports tourism offers a chance to combine their love of sports with their
passion for travel and exploration.
• For destinations, sports tourism can bring in significant revenue, boost the local economy,
and generate positive publicity and exposure. It can also help to build new infrastructure, such as stadiums or sports facilities, which can benefit the local community long after the event has ended.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says: “Sports Tourism plays a key role in enhancing economic growth and social development in many destinations. It creates jobs and supports businesses in cities and rural communities alike. In order to maximize its potential, public and private sector actors must collaborate, and that’s where UNWTO steps in”.
Ms. Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sport of Croatia said: “I am very proud of having hosted this Congress in Croatia. We enjoyed hearing many excellent international and Croatian speakers, as well as presenting the many opportunities of sustainable development of sports tourism in Croatia. Croatian government has secured generous funds for building active tourism infrastructure, in line with our goal of making Croatia a globally competitive sports tourism destination.”
Delivering sports tourism’s benefits
Alongside assessing the impacts of sports tourism, the Congress also explored the potential benefits of the growing sector, including its links to health and wellbeing, and its importance for promoting destinations to bigger and more diverse audiences. In Zadar, leaders from both established and emerging sports tourism destinations shared their insights and best practices to produce recommendations for growing the sector in size and influence.
Tourism Today: Recovering and Transforming
• The year 2022 saw international travel by more than 900 million tourists, 63% of the level in 2019, before the pandemic struck. Global tourism this year should improve considerably to reach approximately 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels,
• In Europe UNWTO data shows global international tourist arrivals returned to approximately 80% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels at the end of 2022. Near-complete recovery (95%) expected by the end of this year.
• The mounting economic, health and geopolitical challenges continue to pose a risk to
recovery, exacerbated by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
• At the same time, strong demand from the United States, backed by a strong US dollar, will continue to benefit destinations in the region and beyond.
• UNWTO was there for the re-opening of China to tourism, “the last piece in the sector’s
• UNWTO is leading the transformation of tourism around greater sustainability, inclusivity and resilience. Priorities include: promoting investment in tourism; jobs, training and education, tourism climate action; tourism governance.