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Athletes as tourists: Consumer Behaviour of Participants at the 2007 and 2009 World Universiade Games


Considerable research has been devoted to sport mega-events including the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup, and the Commonwealth Games. Yet few studies have focused on the lesser known or "second tier" international sport events in order to understand the patterns and the impact of participant consumption. Further, few sport event studies are extended beyond a single assessment. This study examines a recurring sport event, the World Universiade Summer Games, that took place in two different countries, Belgrade, Serbia and Bangkok, Thailand. A profile of participants at the 2007 and 2009 Universiades was generated to reveal and compare their consumer behaviour in the host cities and over time. Subjects were queried on-site during selected days of competition (N=441, 2007; N=221, 2009). Findings demonstrate a remarkable consistency in participant characteristics and local spend from 2007 to 2009, though the amount spent per night was considerably less than the average per night spend by other types of tourists in the host countries, suggesting that Universiade athletes are non high-value tourists. Discussion and implications of findings to sport and tourism destination scholars and marketers are presented.