Sports ETA releases its “State of the Industry” Report for the $91.8 Billion Sport Tourism Industry

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (May 4, 2022) – Sports ETA, the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, released its annual State of the Industry Report for 2021 resulting in the sports tourism sector’s direct spending impact of $39.7 billion which generated a total economic impact of $91.8 billion, supporting 635,000 full-time and part-time jobs and generating $12.9 billion in taxes.

The association’s last research report, “2019 State of the Sports Tourism Industry Report in America presented by the Sports Events and Tourism Association in partnership with the Northstar Meetings Group” was released in 2020 to benchmark 2019, and concluded that U.S. sports-related travelers, event organizers and venues spent a total of $45.1 billion in 2019, an increase of over five percent from the previous year. Those travelers generated $103.3 billion in direct, indirect and induced business sales.

The study was led by Dr. Jennifer Stoll, who leads research efforts for Sports ETA, in partnership with Northstar Meetings Group, the leading multi-platform brand for dedicated meeting and business planners and sports event organizers, and the presenting sponsor of the association’s “Annual State of the Industry” research report.

The analysis draws on the following data sources to quantify sports tourism, which includes adult and youth amateur events and collegiate tournaments (The economic impact analyses conducted within the report exclude professional sports and collegiate regular season games.):

  • Sports ETA: destination membership survey data
  • Longwoods International: traveler survey data, including spending and visitor profile characteristics for sports tourism nationwide
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics: employment and wage data, by industry
  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics: U.S. domestic average itinerary fares
  • U.S. Travel Association: domestic travel data
  • STR: lodging data
  • Sports attendance data

“Our annual State of the Industry report shows that the sport tourism industry has an economic impact of $91.8 Billion supporting 635,000 jobs in our member communities across America,” said Al Kidd, President & CEO of Sports ETA.

Additional major findings in the 2021 State of the Industry Report include:

  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled or delayed sports events across the country and those events that took place had fewer spectators per participant. Ultimately, the number of sports travelers decreased 46.5% year-over-year to 96 million in 2020. The sector rebounded quickly in 2021 increasing 82.0% year-over-year. The 175 million sports travelers in 2021 was only 2.6% lower than the high-water mark established in 2019.
  • Sports travelers, event organizers, and venues spent $9.7 billion on transportation, $8.4 billion on lodging, and $7.5 billion on food and beverages. Recreation, retail, and tournament operations rounded out spending, registering $5.3 billion, $5.0 billion, and $3.7 billion, respectively. The lodging sector accounted for 21% of all sports-related travel spending. In 2021, sports-related travel generated 66.5 million room nights, which is an important factor given that hotel taxes are a primary funding source for many entities.

View the State of the Industry Report

About Sports ETA
As the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, Sports ETA is the most trusted resource for sports commissions, destination marketing organizations (DMOs), and sports event owners. Sports ETA is committed to the success of more than 600 member organizations and 2,500 sports event professionals. We promise to deliver quality education, ample networking opportunities, and exceptional event management and marketing know-how to our members and to protect the integrity of the sports events and tourism industry. For more information, visit

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