Flying Fans: More Indians are travelling for international sports events

Demand for international sports tourism is growing among Indians, thanks to a rising middle class, an increasing appetite for unique experiences, and a rising HNI / UHNI segment

By  Storyboard18Jul 11, 2024 5:07 PM
Flying Fans: More Indians are travelling for international sports events
Paris Olympics 2024 is scheduled to be held from July 26- August 11

Haswanth Vadlapudi, 25, a cricket fan from Hyderabad, travelled to New York to attend the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match, held on June 9. Vadlapudi told Storyboard18, "The US visa and the entire planning was a huge hassle. Overall, I spent around Rs 4.5 lakh for the visa, flight tickets, hotel, and match ticket".

Like Vadlapudi, a vast number of people from India travel abroad to watch marquee sports events such as the Wimbledon, the UEFA Champions League, the cricket and football World Cups, the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, etc., every year. Notably, sports tourism is gradually becoming a major driver for the Indian market as several international games played in India, like the 2023 World Cup, attracted tourists from various countries like England, Bangladesh, Australia, and South Africa, thus promoting inbound tourism.

According to the United Nations data, sports tourism is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.5 percent between 2023-2030 globally, with the sports tourism market projected to reach $1.8 billion by the end of the decade.

Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head - Holidays, SOTC Travel said that the increased demand for international sports tourism among Indians can be attributed to the rising middle class, an increasing appetite for unique experiences, and a rising HNI / UHNI segment. Aloke Bajpai, Chairman, Managing Director, and Group CEO, ixigo, told Storyboard18, "Over the past few years, we have seen an exponential rise in demand for sports travel. Indians are increasingly traveling, both domestically and internationally, to attend major sporting events like the IPL, the cricket World Cup, and the Olympics. The finals of the T20 World Cup between India and South Africa witnessed enthusiastic participation from Indian fans, with flight searches for Barbados surging by over 100 percent year-on-year."

Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India and Gulf, Tourism Australia, said sports events down under are also a big draw for Indians. "Events like the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy, 2024-25, have already signalled a surge in interest from India," Kashikar added. According to Cricket Australia, ticket sales from India in the current calendar year have witnessed a 10x rise as compared to the 2018 and 2019 years for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. "Most of the tickets purchased from India have been for the Boxing Day Test, especially corporate groups traveling from India for Hospitality & Premium Experience products," Cricket Australia added.

The Olympics

Now that the T20 Cricket World Cup is over, Indians are preparing to fly to Paris to witness the Summer Olympics starting on July 26. According to the Paris Tourist Office, around 15 million spectators may attend the 17-day event. Just the opening ceremony is expected to have 3,00,000 visitors.

"In May this year, search data revealed a 30% year-on-year increase in searches by Indian travellers for Paris during the Paris 2024 Olympics. India was also among the top 5 countries in Asia-Pacific searching for flights to Paris between 26 July and 11 August," Santosh Kumar, Country Manager for India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia at Booking.com said. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Indians plan to travel for international sporting events and 70% are keen on travelling for national sporting events this year, Kumar added.

Monish Shah, Founder, and CEO, DreamSetGo, a sports travel firm, said most of his clients are between 35 to 50 years old with high disposable income, as well as some young people from affluent families. DreamSetGo is the official sub-distributor for Paris Olympic hospitality programme this year.

According to Rajeev Kale - President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa - Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, Indians have demonstrated that they are willing to spend on premium sports events, such as the Olympics, which costs Rs 11 lakh per person for a group of around 50.

Packages

Inderjit Singh, an Indian based in Lagos, Nigeria, is getting ready to travel to the Olympics. "I am a sports fan and love travelling to watch games. There is nothing bigger than the Olympics as far as sports are concerned. I was determined to travel to Paris this year," said Singh, and added that his overall package including, visa, flights, tickets to the games, etc., cost him nearly Rs 11 lakh for 14 days. Singh said he approached VUSportX for planning his trip to Paris. VUSportX designs packages for sports fans within India and abroad, which include hotels, flights, and other allied services.

Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip said that the average cost of tickets can range from about $50 to $200, depending on the type of seat and the location of the game. The average budget required to attend international sports events can vary from $1,400 to $4,000, depending on the lifestyle of the attendees.

An HNI (high net-worth individual) spends Rs 5 lakh per package on average, while the average corporate client spends around Rs 2.5 lakh per package, and premium packages (such as the Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies) can go up to Rs 10-12 lakh per person, DreamSetGo's Shah told Storyboard18.

First Published on Jul 11, 2024 8:36 AM

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