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People travel from across the globe to attend Canadian sporting events, affecting the local economy in a major way Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

It’s no secret that Canadians love their sports. Many eyes go misty at the mention of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Calgary Roughnecks have inspired a whole new generation of passionate lacrosse enthusiasts. However, locals aren’t the only ones entranced with Canadian teams. People come from all over the world to see our athletes in action, giving the economy a healthy leg up along the way.

Visitor Spending Boosts Local Economies

So, how exactly does sports tourism impact the economy in Canada? For one thing, people make many purchases when they travel for a sporting event. Sports Tourism Canada (STC) keeps an eye on all that spending, and the numbers are staggering. In 2019 alone, STC found that visitors spent $7.4 billion in the pursuit of sports entertainment in Canada.

Nearly 1.5 million fans travelled internationally to attend sporting events that year. Canadians themselves were also more than willing to travel, with residents taking over 14 million sports-related trips domestically. These visits generated a lot of profit for local economies, and 2019 wasn’t exactly an outlier year. 2018 was similar in terms of profits, and the numbers are expected to go up even more in the future.

Tickets to events, hotel rooms, and restaurants are just the tip of the massive spending iceberg. Car rentals, repairs, and gasoline are an unexpected source of revenue, as are commercial transportation and recreational activities to fill the void of time between games. This influx of cash is a great boon to Canadian business owners and their employees, many of whom rely heavily on tourists during the season.

Taxable Revenue Spreads Prosperity to All

It isn’t just local provinces and municipalities that benefit from sports tourism. The government collects much in the way of taxes, as all who profit must pay their dues. Sports-related activities like betting provide a substantial opportunity for taxation, especially with Canada’s new wagering law that allows provinces to regulate single-game wagers. Because of the recent legislation, Canada is now tapping into a whole new stream of revenue that provides vast potential for profit.

Visitors are free to place wagers on ice hockey, lacrosse, and other popular sports while in Canada. Not only that, but they can bet on politics, television, and other less traditional markets as well. This creates additional interest around the activity, generating more revenue for sportsbooks and potentially more tax dollars for government coffers.

Of course, there are other tax revenue sources to consider. The goods and services tourists buy are subject to the 5% GST tax, while vendors also contribute income taxes. As these monies are collected and distributed, the entire nation benefits from additional funding for infrastructure, schooling, government grant programs, and other support.

Job Creation Makes for a Bright Future

Having a regular stream of sports tourists provides another economic benefit in the form of job creation and growth in our communities. Larger Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal get the most action each year. These destinations boast many sports and might see hundreds of thousands of tourists for a single event or series.

This massive influx of people all need housing, food, and transportation. Local businesses hoping to keep up with demands often take on many additional hands. As more people arrive, cities start spending on improvements as well. Municipalities employ workers to repair roads and other public systems, and may see fit to undertake new construction projects to accommodate more visitors.

Local builders work to construct the stadiums that host these grand sporting events, and custodians are employed to perform upkeep and maintenance. Local workers sell food, take tickets, and do other general tasks during events. Since most larger stadiums are multi-purpose, they stay in use throughout the year—so while some of these jobs are seasonal, many are a permanent source of employment for Canadian citizens.

Sports tourism is a vital part of the Canadian economy. Visiting fans spend their money locally, boosting tax revenue and job creation. As the industry continues to expand, new developments and fresh ideas could mean even more opportunities for growth. The future looks bright for sports tourism in Canada, with the entire nation set to reap the fiscal rewards.

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