Westmeath a great example of sports tourism, says Keith Wood

Westmeath can advance its already strong sport tourism product and grab an even greater slice of the €450bn global industry in the sector, the organisers of a major think-tank of international experts in the field in May have stated.

Former rugby star and founder of marketing company W2 Consulting, Keith Wood said that the Sport Tourism industry is on a steep upward curve globally and represents a huge opportunity for every county, including Westmeath.

Speaking at the announcement of the European Sport Tourism Summit, which will take place at Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick on Thursday May 15, Mr Wood said, “As a county, it [Westmeath] is one of the best examples of what can be achieved. For example, Athlone is now very much synonymous with triathlons, which is one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland, and gave a great lead into what sports tourism can do when it hosted the European Championships in 2010. In terms of exposure alone, Athlone got huge media coverage nationally and internationally out of this.

“When you have natural infrastructure like the river Shannon, Lough Ree, and the lakeland area around Mullingar, there’s so much you can achieve. You have already ticked the triathlon box but there’s so much more, from water-based activities to walking and cycling events.”

Delegates will hear from leading global experts in the sector about how Ireland can attract major global sports events and how local organisations can develop their own successful sports tourism product capable of attracting millions in revenue to a region or local community. The conference will be staged annually in Limerick and will be the biggest of its kind in Europe.

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