To increase interest in Swedish sports events

Results from the project

BFUF Rapport #10
Sikte mot pallen – En studie av svenska sportevenemang och deras deltagare

A study of highly involved international sports tourists
Harald Dolles, Professor, Centre for International Business Studies (CIBS) and affiliated with the Centre for Tourism (CFT), both University of Gothenburg and Erik Lundberg, PhD. in Business Administration, Centre for Tourism (CFT) at the University of Gothenburg

What is the research project about?
“Sports tourism is becoming increasingly popular and an increasing number of international tourists travel long distances to participate in sports events. In Sweden we have got used to being able to attract many participants, local and from overseas, to Vasaloppet, Lidingöloppet, marathons, triathlons and cycling events. However, the competition for international sports tourists is increasing. With more and more events to choose from – how can we guarantee that those international athletes choose to come to Sweden? Having a good reputation as a host country, as we do, is not good enough. We need to gain a better understanding of the way highly involved and active sports tourists think and make their choices of participation. With that knowledge in mind, we can develop strategies to raise the profile of high-profile Swedish sports events on the international market and also awareness about how to package their offers.”

How will you proceed?
“We will study both, the sports tourists and the organisers. By collaborating with GöteborgsVarvet and the group of events marketed as “classic” sports events, we’ll be able to gather data in the form of questionnaires from a large number of participants. We also will inquire with high-profile international sport events for the purpose of comparison. The questionnaire will include questions about travel habits, the decision making process, on the athletes’ information gathering, etc. We will also examine their “event portfolios” (whether they participate in several events) and their “event careers” (how their participation has changed over time) and compare this with general socio-demographic data, like age, gender, level of education and income. In our interviews with the organisers we will focus on the history of the event, the event’s (international) marketing strategy and how and why these have changed over time.”

What is the biggest challenge?
“Gathering data, that’s for sure. We need a couple of thousand responses from both Sweden and abroad in order to draw satisfactory conclusions. This can only be achieved with the support from the event organizers we collaborate with.”

How will you disseminate this knowledge?
“Our aim is to establish a platform for capacity building and skills development which will continue after the end of the research project. Several meetings and workshops with the Swedish event organisers, invited researchers and international participants are scheduled within the framework of the project. The aim of these meetings is to disseminate and discuss the results of the study. We also would like to make sure that those involved in the events will share their experiences with each other. From a scientific perspective, we hope to contribute to the development of theories on serious leisure, event participation, event design and the marketing of events.”

How can the hospitality industry benefit from the research?
“Events held on a regular basis ensure a long-term and stable stream of tourists to these destinations. They create jobs and also have a positive economic, social and cultural impact. Sports tourists are an interesting category of visitors: they often travel in large groups and tend to spend more than “ordinary tourists” within a short period of time. For instance, they often turn up a few days before the event to prepare for the competition but aim to get home soonest after the event. Attracting more sports tourists to Sweden will boost our hospitality industry. Our hope is that the project will help enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of Swedish events in the increasing international competition and that the image of Sweden as a destination for sports events will be reinforced.”

The project is being run by the Centre for Tourism (CFT) at the University of Gothenburg. The Project Manager is Harald Dolles, Professor at the Centre for International Business Studies (CIBS) and affiliated with the Centre for Tourism (CFT), both University of Gothenburg. Other collaborators include: Erik Lundberg, PhD in Business Administration, CFT, Tommy D. Andersson, Professor, CFT, John Armbrecht, PhD in Business Administration, CFT, and Donald Getz, Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary, Canada.

Project facts


To increase interest in Swedish sports events

Research organization

Centre for Tourism (CFT) at the University of Gothenburg

Project Manager

Harald Dolles


2016 Mar – 2018 Feb


SEK 1,300,000

Läs om projektet på svenska »

Harald Dolles


Foto: Jeffrey Johns

Erik Lundberg


Foto: CFT

Tommy Andersson


Foto: CFT

John Armbrecht


Foto: CFT

Donald Getz


Foto: Peter Jönsson