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Boosting Sports Tourism as Economic Driving Force in Indonesia

Due to its vast potential, such as in increasing foreign exchange earnings and creating jobs, the tourism sector has an essential role as one of the driving forces of the nation’s economy.

Tourism activities create demand, which leads to consumption and investment, which in turn encourages the production of various goods and services.

One of the types of tourism is sports tourism, which has gained popularity in Indonesia.

Indonesia, with adequate sports facilities, potential in nature, and tourist attractions, has the potential to make sports tourism one of the driving forces of its economy.

The sports tourism sector is run by three main pillars: the government, the private sector, and the community. Communities at tourist destinations own tourism resources, including cultural aspects.

The community includes community leaders, intellectuals, NGOs, and the mass media.

On the private sector side, there are tourism business associations and business actors. Meanwhile, the government, both at the central and regional levels, makes policies regarding infrastructure and regulations.

Sports tourism activities in tourist destinations can be successful if all stakeholders work together and support each other.

Stakeholders can jointly plan development, organize events, carry out maintenance, and supervise various sectors that support sports tourism activities.

Hard Sports Tourism and Soft Sports Tourism

According to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, hard sports tourism refers to official sports tourism events that are held on an international scale.

In this type of sports tourism, several events have been held in Indonesia, including the 2022 Mandalika MotoGP and the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Indonesia will also host the U-17 FIFA World Cup from November 10 to December 2, 2023.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno stated that the 2022 Mandalika MotoGP had contributed Rp4.5 trillion (around US$292.8 million).

The MotoGP event, held in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, contributed to a 22.29 percent increase in business in the fields of accommodation, food, and beverages. Meanwhile, the transportation business experienced a 15.36 percent growth due to the event.

The number of tourism and creative economy players also rose by 41 percent. The event also caused a drastic increase in the number of tourists visiting West Nusa Tenggara.

As for the upcoming U-17 FIFA World Cup, an economist from the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) Nailul Huda stated that the turnover of money from the event could reach Rp1.02 trillion (US$66.40 million).

In addition to the income generated from ticket sales, indirect economic impacts, such as accommodation, food and beverage, MSMEs, transportation, and broadcasting, also benefit from sports tourism events.

Soft sports tourism refers to sports activities related to lifestyles or trends that everyone, including non-professional athletes, can participate in openly or publicly, such as running, cycling, or surfing.

The aspects of nature, infrastructure, and culture are essential factors in soft sports tourism.

One of the forms of soft sports tourism events is the Borobudur Marathon, which, in 2022, had involved as many as 4,600 participants.

In addition to running, the Borobudur Marathon invited runners to explore, enjoy scenic views, and sample local culinary specialties. In addition, before and after the marathon, participants could tour Borobudur Temple, Central Java, or visit museums and art galleries around the temple.

During the event, the hotel occupancy rate in the area had reached 80 percent, higher than that on regular days. Moreover, the Borobudur Marathon event served as a driving force for tourism, especially for players of MSMEs.


The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy in 2021 projected Indonesia’s sports tourism value to grow to Rp18.79 trillion (around US$1.22 billion) by 2024.

The huge economic potential of sports tourism has led the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy to include sports activities in the Wonderful Indonesia Calendar of Events (CoE).

The concept of sports tourism has also been accommodated formally in Law Number 11 of 2022 on Sports.

The success of sports tourism events in Indonesia is due in part to the government’s commitment to preparing infrastructure, such as sports venues, tourism and cultural programs, and building an economic ecosystem that is integrated with the world of sports.

However, the government still faces several challenges, including air pollution.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno assessed that air pollution can threaten the potential of sports tourism.

Uno cited the impact of air pollution on international marathon race events in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek) as an example.

“There are many prospective participants of this sports-based tourism that are considering this. Thus, if it is not handled well, this will have a negative impact on the reputation and organizing of similar events,” he pointed out.

Based on data, sports tourism in Indonesia has a significant economic impact on the community. Therefore, it is important to involve local communities in the development of sports tourism to empower them.

Efforts to improve the quality of human resources in sports tourism destinations should continue to be made by the government, for instance, through training for local communities on ways to prepare for sports tourism events and welcome tourists.

Good preparation and warm welcome from the local communities can give a good impression to tourists and attract them to return again in the future, even without sports tourism events.

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