Limerick in the running for major Sport Tourism award

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Nod for Limerick: Keith Wood and Mark O'Connell, organisers of this week's Shannon Airport European Sport Tourism Summit, with Andrew Murphy of the Shannon Group. Picture: Sean Curtin
LIMERICK has been nominated in four categories at the inaugural Shannon Group European Sport Tourism Awards, which take place this week.

LIMERICK has been nominated in four categories at the inaugural Shannon Group European Sport Tourism Awards, which take place this week.

The event, the second European Sport Tourism Summit - backed by Shannon Airport again this year - takes place in Thomond Park on Thursday and Friday and will draw a host of delegates from the industry.

Limerick will go head to head with Belfast, Copenhagen and London for the title of European Sport Tourism City 2016, one of the major awards that will be handed out this week at the conference.

In all, Limerick is represented in four categories, with Ballyhoura nominated in three - European Sport Tourism Venue, National Sport Tourism Destination Marketing and European Sport Tourism Event of the Year - while UL is also nominated in the Sport Tourism Venue classification.

The awards have been added to the event this year after a successful debut for the summit at Thomond Park in 2014. The brainchild of Keith Wood and Mark O’Connell of W2 consulting, it was attended last year by some 240 delegates who heard expert testimony from Martin Snedden, CEO of the New Zealand 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Attending this week are Commonwealth Games CEO Federation David Grevemberg, deemed one of the world’s leading authorities on sport tourism, Richard Hills, managing director of Ryder Cup Europe, Paul Smith, head of city delivery for England Rugby World Cup 2015 and Mike Laflin of SportCal, a global leader in sport market intelligence.

Munster and Irish rugby star Paul O’Connell will also speak at the event’s awards ceremony on Thursday evening.

“Ireland has really come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade and developed some fantastic sport tourism events and brands as well as attracted some major events to our shores,” said Mark O’Connell.

“Limerick is one of the leading locations and, for a city and county of its size and population, has few peers internationally when it comes to sport tourism. That’s reflected in the four nominations,” he added.

The duo established the European Sport Tourism Summit last year, describing Limerick as the “ideal place” to host the high profile event. Wood said it was about being a “catalyst for change”.

“The overall idea is to try and put sport tourism - as opposed to tourism and sport matches, which are held separately - to try and integrate them a little bit more, to bring some of the Government agencies together with some of the producers of sport,” he said at the time, of an industry that is currently expanding at a rate of 14% per annum compared to the healthy growth of 5% in traditional tourism sectors.

See sporttourismsummit.ie for more.