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Sport Tourism, an Economic Development Opportunity for Romania

Sport Tourism, an Economic Development Opportunity for Romania
  • The percentage of athletes engaging in activities outside their home country has increased by 101%.
  • Athletics has become a strong promoter of sports tourism.
  • Brașov Running Festival – an event that will promote Brașov and Romania in 146 countries.

Sports tourism is a new concept in Romania and is in the early stages of development compared to the United States or Western European countries, where it increasingly contributes to economic growth each year.

According to representatives of the Brașov Running Festival, sports have a tradition in our country, being practiced over the years at the highest professional level by internationally renowned athletes, as well as ordinary people who exercise for a healthy lifestyle. However, both general and specific infrastructure have not yet reached the appropriate standards to support true potential development.

"Considering these factors, sports tourism in Romania mainly has a local impact, so most tourists traveling for any sports-related reason are Romanians. Nevertheless, with Romania's accession to the European Union, a favorable context has been created, and Romania is consistently making efforts to align with required international standards, including in the sports field,"

says Daniel Santa, Director of the Brașov Running Festival.

The importance of sports tourism in Romania lies in the fact that it can attract tourists from all over the world and contribute to the economic development of the area in which it is practiced, offering a wide range of possibilities ranging from extreme sports like mountaineering and paragliding to less "intense" sports like trekking, road or mountain running, cycling, or horseback riding.

An INSSE* study (July 2022) on the total capacity of tourist accommodation at the national level shows that in 2022 Romania had a total capacity of 9,120 accommodation structures with a capacity of approximately 370,000 lodging places, the majority of which were in Brașov (879 accommodation structures), Constanța (864), and Suceava (537).

"The professional organization of sports competitions is extremely beneficial for the public image of the country, cities, as well as for local economic actors involved in the event organization process. Results mean revenue, at some point profit, increased occupancy and use of accommodation services, taxes and taxes collected in the state budget, jobs, but also excellent image capital,"

says Daniel Santa.

In this context, with Brașov being the leader in the number of accommodation units in the country, choosing this city for the development of the sports niche is a natural step. In fact, this was one of the reasons behind the launch of the Brașov Running Festival – an event dedicated to road running, organized in Brașov since 2021. The flagship race of this competition is the "tRUNsylvania International 10K," accredited with the World Athletics Elite Label, which has gained international renown. Every year, athletes from the top 20 globally gather at the starting line, putting Brașov and Romania on the map of the world's most important running competitions.

"I believe Romania has a very good geographical position and good connections with most of Europe, making it easily accessible for European and global athletes, both professionals and amateurs. We just need to try to build experiences and events that attract them. And for that, competitions need to make efforts to gain global recognition. An attractive element in Romanian competitions is also related to costs, both in terms of organizational and participation fees, offering the perfect mix of low costs versus high satisfaction,"

Daniel Santa added.

Moreover, a study by** in 2022 indicates that athletes are traveling more than ever, finding new ways to enjoy the pleasure of practicing their favorite sports. The proportion of athletes trying activities outside their home country has increased by 101% compared to the previous year.

If we focus strictly on athletics, it has been growing in importance in recent years. According to the latest data from the Nielsen Sports*** study, reported for 2021 on a sample of 8,414 people from 10 countries, 4 out of 10 people identify as runners, of which 30% claim to run at least once a month. They prefer running short and medium distances, up to 20 km.

Furthermore, according to****, in 2023, over 52,000 running competitions will be organized globally, with about 11,400 in Europe. In our country, numerous running competitions will be organized this year, but only 5 races are certified by World Athletics.

At the moment, the USA ranks first in organizing athletics races with over 30,000 annual races, followed at a considerable distance by France (6,714 races), Germany (1,075), the United Kingdom (987), Canada (688), Italy (483).

"All official information regarding the development of both general and sports tourism, as well as information about the evolution of sports niches, converge in the same place. Sports tourism is an area that needs to be accessed and can bring major benefits to all parties involved,"

Daniel Santa further emphasized.

"Surely, Brașov is the most suitable city in Romania for organizing such an event. On one hand, we are talking about a city with a solid sports tradition. On the other hand, Brașov is a top tourist destination in the country. Sports tourism has been steadily growing in recent years, and we are delighted that Brașov is already on the map of profile events. I wish success to the organizers and to all those who will start in the races at the Brașov Running Festival. Let the records fall!"

declared Allen Coliban, Mayor of Brașov.

For these reasons, Brașov Running Festival will prepare a unique festival concept for 2023, where elite and amateur races will blend with the atmosphere and vibe of a music festival, featuring 3 cheering zones where spectators can watch the sports competitions and enjoy live performances by bands and DJs, as well as dedicated areas where participants can engage in various forms of movement. Registrations have already begun for amateur athletes and children, who can choose between distances of 5KM and 10KM for adults, 800m, 1200m, and 3KM for children and juniors here:

This year, the event will take place from September 10th to 11th, and around 3,000 athletes and 30,000 spectators are expected to participate. The competition will enjoy unprecedented international media coverage, with images from the event being distributed in over 146 countries through various TV channels, digital platforms, and entertainment programs of airlines.

More information about this year's edition can be found here

Details about how the 2022 Brașov Running Festival unfolded can be viewed in the aftermovie here:

About Brașov Running Festival

Brașov Running Festival is an event dedicated to running, organized in Brașov since 2021. It includes an annual 10 km road race, accredited with the World Athletics Elite Label, titled "tRUNsylvania International 10K". Beyond this, the competition consists of a multitude of other races for both amateurs and professionals.The races take place on a loop with a length of 3,494 m, using the same finish line but having different starting points depending on the length of the stage.The 2022 edition of the race, held on September 25th, set new records. Running was never faster in Romania. Kenyan runners Nicholas Kimeli and Sheila Chepkirui won the 10KM race with times of 26:51 and 30:07, respectively. Kimeli's time made him the fifth fastest 10KM runner of all time, and Chepkirui missed breaking the women's 10KM world record by just six seconds.

* Repere economice şi sociale regionale - Statistică teritorială (carte)
Cheltuielile turiștilor nerezidenți în România,  în trimestrul IV și anul 2022

** Strava - Year in Sport 2022
**** Ahotu

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