Sports holidays taking off

Sports holidays taking off

Having completed nine running events in Singapore in the first nine months of the year, construction manager Shie Chee Hwa wanted a change of scenery.

In October, the 44-year-old traded the views of Singapore's skyscrapers and expressways for the autumn hues of South Korea.

He took part in a 10km run as part of the Chosunilbo Chuncheon International Marathon, held in the northern city of Chuncheon.

Some travel agents are now offering holidays focused on sports activities for travellers like him.

In Mr Shie's case, his travel agency, Dynasty Travel, arranged an eight-day sports travel package that included return flights, accommodation and sightseeing for $1,800.

"It was fuss-free... I didn't even have to worry about transport to and from the race venue," he said.

The travel agency also arranged for transport to the event and back, and threw in post-race drinks and snacks such as sandwiches and bananas.

At least three agencies here offer trips which include an element of sports.

These can involve active participation by travellers in such sports as a marathon or a cycling race. For those who are less active, it could be a trip that includes entry to watch a sporting event like an English Premier League match.

The cost of a sports travel package starts from around $1,200, depending on the destination, the type of hotel and the legwork involved in registering for the sporting event.

Scenic Travel, a pioneer in this field, said that it has seen tremendous growth since 2006, when it started offering such sports-related packages.

In that year, the agency had about 40 sports travellers, most of whom went on private golfing trips.

Now, it organises eight to 10 sports trips per year, and this year alone, it had over 500 people signing up for their sports travel packages to join runs, cycling trips or watch big sporting events, said Scenic Travel general manager Simon Er.

He said the company is in the process of tying up a deal with a partner abroad to offer "watch and play" golf packages for major events such as the US Open and the Masters Golf Tournament.

Dynasty Travel and CTC Travel have also started offering sports travel packages recently.

Dynasty said it hopes to have at least 200 travellers per event in three years' time. The travel agency had around 50 travellers for its first two sports travel packages in October and November this year .

Besides the marathon in Chuncheon, Dynasty also offers a package to the Jeju Marathon, with pre-race training clinics by professional runners.

Meanwhile, CTC is aiming for 80 participants at next year's Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, about three times more than this year's number.

"It is definitely growing, not just confined to serious runners, but also extending to families and friends who are looking at such trips for family bonding and friendship building," said Ms Sylvia Tan, CTC's vice-president of marketing and public relations.

Both CTC and Dynasty say they hope to branch out into offering cycling holidays as well.

This article was first published on Dec 23, 2014.
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