Intellectual property, sports and tourism: a perfect match

Author:Carole Beckford
Position:Sports Marketer, Kingston, Jamaica

Sports events are becoming a major driver of economic development globally. Global management consultants, AT Kearney, have estimated that the industry is worth around USD 620 billion. That figure represents a significant portion of the USD 4.5 trillion estimated value of the tourism industry as a whole.


Sports and related sectors, ranging from infrastructure, training, and events to manufacturing and retail of sports equipment and hospitality, make up a significant share of what goes on in the tourism industry. Research by management consultants, KPMG Peat Marwick, suggests that the global sports industry will experience steady annual growth of between 7 and 11 percent up to 2023. The web of commercial relationships that enable the sector to deliver sports to fans around the world are underpinned, in large part, by intellectual property (IP) rights, from patents and designs to trademarks and media rights.

These data point to one thing – IP, sports and tourism combined make a significant direct contribution to the global economy and generate far-reaching indirect benefits in terms of promoting physical well-being, developing notions of fair play and mutual respect, and cultivating social cohesion and a sense of community.

A lasting legacy

When a destination, such as Kingston, Jamaica, recognizes the potential of sports events to boost tourism, and incorporates such events into its economic planning process, it must also have a well-defined IP strategy. Strategic use of the IP rights held by organizers of sports events can create significant opportunities for wealth creation, employment and development of urban infrastructure. Through the sale of broadcasting rights, commercial sponsorship and merchandizing deals (underpinned by trademark rights), organizers of sports events can secure the funds needed to stage these events, including the cost of creating or upgrading sports stadia and other physical infrastructure to ensure the event runs smoothly and sports fans have a comfortable and safe experience. In this way, the combination of IP, sports and tourism creates opportunities for public and private investment in urban infrastructure and services, and a lasting legacy for the host country or city and its inhabitants.

From a tourism perspective, a high-profile sports event can draw people from across the globe. Sports fans will travel from far-and-wide to watch their sporting heroes compete and to soak up the atmosphere of a sports fixture. Effective marketing and promotion of an event and a destination will both enhance the support of fans and attract tourists from around the world.

Many will buy memorabilia – a commemorative T-shirt, cap or other sports apparel, key rings, and other accessories associated with the event –all produced...

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