Tourism and sport at the local and national scale

Human and physical factors responsible for the growth of rural and urban tourism hotspots

Hotspot: This is an area of intense leisure activities that attract above average number of visitors. Tourists are attracted to these areas because they have primary and secondary resources and they are accessible.

Primary Tourist Resources are the main tourist attractions. For example climate, scenery (desert, national parks), coastal resorts, historic and heritage buildings (Cape Coast castle), indigenous cultures, cultural dance, and festivals. Kakum National Park and wildlife. Some other human aspects include monuments like the statue of liberty, Christ the Redeemer, Mount Rushmore, Eiffel Tower.

Secondary Tourist Resources can be external (airports, sea ports, road networks that cut across national borders, railway) or it can be internal (car parks, well-developed sign posts, hotels, electricity, internet services, restaurants, water supply, sanitation).

Factors that determine whether the area is a hotspot include:

Climate: If the area has extreme temperatures, it may not serve as a hotspot, unless there is a special event which requires extremely high temperatures, such as the annual desert race that takes place in the Sahara. If the area is too cold, then it could serve as a skiing hotspot ( such as in the Alps).

The culture of an area: If the people have some type of religion (Mecca or Jerusalem), cuisine, clothing (Kente or Bonwire), architecture or education (Oxford, Cambridge) then people would go there to view these things. eg. Mecca is a hotspot for Islamic pilgrims who visit the Holy Site as a form of religious worship. Jerusalem and the Holy Sites also serve as a hotspot for Christian pilgrimage.

Kente weaving at Bonwire in Ghana

Natural Landscape: If it is low-lying, it would be adequate for football, rugby, golf etc. If it is mountainous and cold, it would be adequate for skiing or an attractive area for biodiversity (Mount Verde cloud forest) or paragliding, or hiking.

Sporting Events: If the area has sporting events, then it is more likely to attract tourists. Countries such as Barcelona are well known for football, thus people are willing to travel to Barcelona just to watch their football matches. World Cup events- whenever a country is hosting the World Cup, they see an influx in the number of tourists. Olympic Events- whenever a country is hosting the Olympics, they also witness an influx in the number of tourists.

Government Investment and Planning: The government deliberately makes tourism as a key aspect of its economic development. They focus more on providing both primary and secondary resources to attract tourists and this makes such places hotspots for tourism. E.g. Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and The Maldives. In the case of Dubai, they believe that in the next few years their oil reserves would run out. Thus to maintain the level of economic growth, they decided to deliberately invest in tourism. Saudi Arabia is also building a model city ( NEON) to attract investment and tourists.

Case studies of rural and urban hotspots

The city of Oxford (Oxford University):

  • The Universities (Kings College, Christ College etc.)
  • Historical Buildings (Over 200 years old)
  • Architecture
  • Nightlife
  • Generates about 200 million pounds every year
  • 5 million visitors each year
  • Provides 5,000 jobs for the people

Variations in the sphere of influence of sporting events

The sphere of influence (or the catchment area) of a sporting event is the area from which the sporting event draws its competitors and supporters. Two concepts are important in determining the sphere of influence of sporting and tourist facilities. They include the Range and the Threshold

Photo by Oleg Magni on
  • The range refers to the maximum distance that people are prepared to travel to attend a sporting event or visit a tourist facility.
  • The threshold is the minimum number of people required or needed for a sporting activity or tourist facility to be operational.

Some sporting or touristic facilities have a higher range and therefore a higher sphere of influence. These are also known as high-order sporting or touristic facilities. These are facilities or events people are prepared to pay more or travel long distances to visit. Examples of high-order sporting or touristic facilities include Soccer events, golf courses, polo clubs, Formula 1 racing, Olympic Games, Tour du France, monuments and landmarks (natural parks, rivers etc.). High-order sporting facilities are usually located in urban areas because they require a large threshold population.

On the other hand, low-order touristic or sporting facilities, are those where fewer people are prepared to travel long distances or pay more to enjoy the service. They may include local parks, gyms, restaurants and cinemas etc. Such facilities are usually located in both urban and rural areas.

A simple diagram showing the sphere of influence of leisure hierarchy

Hierarchy of leisure facilities

Factors influencing the sphere influence of different kinds of sporting and touristic facilities

Photo by Nextvoyage on
  • Affluence: If the citizens are high-income earners, they can afford to patronise sporting events through stadium attendance, television views, souvenirs etc. And are more likely to support through these means.
  • Government and Private investment: Government investment in infrastructure to support sports development, meant to attract young people to a sporting event, is more likely to attract many teams from such cities or countries. China, for example, is investing heavily in football infrastructure.
  • Growth in popularity: Well-known sports have a higher sphere of influence than sports that are not well-known.
  • Advertisement and marketing in new areas: When a football club advertises its souvenirs and events in new areas, it increases its supporter base, hence its sphere of influence. Also, rich clubs like Manchester City or Man U, Chelsea etc have been known to tour to places such as China and the United States to play games and market merchandise.
  • Increased wealth and development in the country: The country can invest in infrastructure that will attract more people to the country
  • The impact of global competition: if the clubs play or compete at international levels, their sphere of influence increases
  • Increased exposure to different media as a result of an increase in technology. The media in the form of TV, radio and the internet is able to beam live matches to a large number of viewers all over the world. This increases the sphere of influence of the sport. Sports such as Football, tennis etc.
  • Greater population mobility

Intra-urban leisure hierarchy

Leisure hierarchy in urban areas can be conceptualized in the diagram below.

Due to high land values in urban areas, the distribution of leisure facilities is such that sporting events or leisure facilities that require a large spectator base but occupy a limited space are usually located close to the city centre (due to high land values) whilst facilities that require large space/land would be located far from the city centre, close to the suburbs or urban-rural fringe e.g country park. This partly explains why golf courses are not located close to the central business district (because the land will be too expensive for such sport), whilst a sports stadium or a cinema hall/theatre would be located in the heart of the city – because these require limited space but attract a large spectator base.

A model of leisure hierarchy in a British city. Source: Nagle, G. Geograrphy Course Companion, 2nd Edition, 2011

Assignment: In your bubbles, discuss your response to this question

Referring to specific activities, analyse why the leisure facilities in a central business district (CBD) differ from those in the rural-urban fringe

Factors affecting the geography of a national sports league

The hierarchy of a national sports league:

Old Trafford: Manchester United Football Stadium

The league is an arrangement of teams according to their performance. A national sports league is a hierarchy of teams according to their level of performance in a particular sports season. Examples of national sports leagues include English Premier League, National Football League, Bundesliga in Germany, La Liga in Spain in Serie A in Italy.

The position of each team in the national sports league is determined by their performance. High-performing clubs (clubs that win a lot) will usually be at the top of the hierarchy whilst poor-performing teams will be located at the bottom, awaiting relegation (bottom two teams) to a lower division, if their performance does not improve by the end of the season.

For example, in the English Premier League, the position of the team in a hierarchy is determined by a point system, whereby a team is awarded 3 points when it wins a match, 1 point when it draws with the other team and no points when it loses. In the 2017/2018 premier league, Manchester City was at the top. The top four teams get the opportunity of playing other top four teams from various European countries in the much-coveted Champions League and the bottom two are relegated to Championship ( another lower-division league in the English league). Note that every country has various leagues. Visit for details on the various leagues in different countries.

A typical English Premier League looks like this:

English Premier League table for 2018/19. Source: soccerway. com
Case study of one national sports league
Premier League Explained

Factors affecting the location of teams and the distribution of supporters

Note: this is almost similar to factors affecting the sphere of influence of a sporting or tourist event

There is a relationship between the location of teams and the settlements in which they are. Teams are usually named after the settlements they are located in. For example, Manchester United is in Manchester, and Liverpool is in Liverpool. Where a settlement is too large in terms of its population size the teams are usually named after the suburbs in the settlements. For example, London is a big city and hence has Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

Most popular English Premier League clubs with African support

The town’s population is expected to be the main support base of the club. Manchester United would draw its supporters from Manchester etc. However, as a result of globalization, the sphere of influence of the club far extends beyond the towns and cities they are located in. For instance, Chelsea has supporters in Ghana, South Africa, China and Nigeria.

Globalization has made it possible for teams to buy players beyond their home location. This draws support from the people whose countries are represented in the teams. A typical example is Fosu Mensah, a Ghanaian footballer who plays for Manchester United who has drawn supporters from Ghana

Click the interactive map to see the location of most Premier League followers on Twitter.

Certain factors affect the location of teams and the distribution of supporters:

  1. Population density: The population is important because it is the people in the settlement that will patronize the club to enable them to get revenue and run the club
  2. The level of income of the residence: Clubs are usually located in places where fans have a reasonable level of income to be able to buy the tickets to support the clubs
  3. The demographic composition of the population: Certain sports are located in areas that require a certain age bracket of supporters. A good example is soccer which requires a largely youthful and working population rather than an ageing population while golf requires a larger working and ageing population.
  4. The presence of certain physical activities (topography): The topography or landscape will determine the location of certain sports or teams. For example, beach soccer can only be played in coastal areas
  5. The level of infrastructure in the area: The road networks, stadia, airports and anything that facilitates the movement of people to and from the area determines the location of a sports team
  6. When the town is politically stable, teams will be located in the area since the teams need peace to thrive.
  7. Government and private investment in infrastructure to support sports development that is meant to attract young people to a sporting event are more likely to encourage teams to emerge from sub-cities or towns.
  8. Cultural and historical factors: If a country is noted for competing in an event, it will tend to have a large number of clubs. For example, England has long been noted as a soccer country
  9. Proximity to competing teams: The essence of being a sporting team is to compete with others for a grand prize. As such, teams would locate in towns that have other teams. This reduces the cost of travel, as the teams do not have to go over long distances to play with others. In Ghana, for instance, the Kpando Hearts of Lions, the only team in the Volta Region migrated to Accra.

Question: Referring to a national sports league, explain the factors that have determined the location of its sports teams

Aerial view of Etihad Stadium, Manchester City

The relationship between the location of the teams and the distribution of their supporters.

The relationship between the teams in the English Premier League and the location of their supporters is such that teams at the top of the English premier league hierarchy are located in major urban areas hence they have a wide sphere of influence. Consequently, they have many local supporters as well as supporters from other towns and cities in the country, including international supporters. The exceptions are Birmingham City’s club which is the second largest city in London.

On the other hand, teams that are in the lower hierarchy in the English premier league including very small local clubs are located in many towns and villages in England and the sphere of influence is usually limited or small. Consequently, their supporters are usually drawn from the local area and hardly will anyone in the urban area supports these clubs. However many of the supporters of these local clubs are more likely to support teams that are higher in the hierarchy.

Certain factors influence the sphere of influence of the bigger clubs or teams in the top of the hierarchy which gives them the opportunity of having an international supporter base.

Explain how the following factors can affect the sphere of influence of bigger clubs:

  1. Media
  2. Sponsorships and advertisements
  3. The country of origin of the players
  4. Globalization
  5. The level of success of the club.
  6. Add two other factors

The costs and benefits of a sporting, religious, cultural event on a large scale population.

Case study of one festival in a rural location, its site factors and geographic impacts


Location of Glastonbury

Facts About the Festival —

  • It is a form of cultural tourism and also serves as a temporary site of leisure. —
  • Many secondary tourist attractions have been developed around the Glastonbury festival because of its popularity. —
  • Began in 1970 by Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily and the festival has been held subsequently till now.
  • The festival occupies an open space (approximately 800 acres) and can accommodate up to 250,000 people.
  • Growth of the Festival Between 1970 and 2010

—Factors Affecting the Location of the Festival —

  • Located in a rural area a large space (about 800 acres) is required.
  • —There is little disruption to the population of fewer than 10,000 people.
  • One limitation is the lack of proximity to a major access route. —
  • Congestion on narrow rural routes is a problem during the festival weekend. —
Bird’s eye view of the festival site

Economic Costs —

  • It costs £780,000 to clean up after the festival. —The total cost is £22 million for hosting the event. However, the revenue of £82 million far outweighs the cost. —
  • In 2016, the enforcement of security personnel in the area costs £800,000 —Glastonbury festival pays its performers about £2 million. —From this, we can see that there are many stakeholders involved and each person plays a key role in contributing to the success of the event. —

—Economic Benefits

  • —Provides employment to the rural population. (100 people) —
  • Each visitor spends about £293. This money makes substantial contributions to charities such as Water Aid and Oxfam.
  • —Revenue obtained may be used to fund local projects such as the provision of schooling and sporting facilities. Eg. Rebuilding of the Pilton Playing Fields Pavillion —The Mendip economy; Bristol and Bath, Shapton and Mallet all benefit financially from the festival (£35 million in 2007) — —

Social Impacts —

  • Dealing with huge numbers of tourists, drug and substance abuse. —
  • 188 crimes were reported to the police in 2017 and 71 people were arrested as compared to 40 in 2016.
  • In 2015, a blood donation exercise was held leading to an increase in blood stocks in the area. —
  • Glastonbury benefits from a wider sphere of influence of tourists. In 2007 over 700 journalists reported on the festival. —
level of pollution

—Environmental Impacts —

  • Noise pollution: many performances continue late into the night disturbing local residents. —
  • Air pollution: Carbon dioxide emissions rise as car transports are still popular because of convenience.
  • —Provision of resources: High energy consumption as over 120 generators are used. Food and water (1,000,000 gallons) also need to be supplied. —
  • Large amounts of waste are generated because of the large crowd. It is often expensive to clean up after the festival. Costs £780,000 to clean up

References —Glastonbury Festival, 2019a. Local Benefits. Accessed 20th March, 2019. —Ellsbury Hannah, 23rd June 2014, “Glastonbury Festival Emulates Burning Man “Leave no trace” —Powerful Thinking, 2019. Comprehensive Energy Monitoring Project with Agrekko and UWE. Accessed 20th March, 2019. —Nagle and Cooke, Garrett and Briony, “Oxford IB Diploma Program: Geography Course Companion” 2nd Edition, Published February 3rd 2017 —Burdett Matt, 30th November, 2017 “Case Study: Glastonbury festival” —Tremethick Rewan, June 23rd 2016 “Glastonbury 2016 – money facts from the world’s largest festival” —

Further reading:

  • Our Planet’s Leisure, Sport and Tourism By Stephen Codrington