- Posted by Daniel Meesak
- On 12th November 2015
- china, chinese, growth, marathons, outbound, sports, tourism, tourists
Marathons are gaining significant traction in China, fueling tourism growth and an explosion of the number of marathons held in the country. According to official data from the Chinese Athletic Association, the number of official marathons held in China has risen from 22 in 2011 to 120 held so far in 2015. They predict that over 200 marathons will be held in China in 2016.
The “Chinese marathon fever” has not only caused the number of events held in China to rise sharply, but has also resulted in well-known marathons not being able to accommodate all interested runners. The 2015 Shanghai International Marathon saw 100,000 runners apply for participation, with a capacity ceiling of 35,000 – forcing the organisers to distribute the tickets by raffle.
Last week’s Beijing Bird’s Nest Half Marathon faced similar problems, seeing placements expected to be filled within half a month filled within a few hours, which went as far as resulting in system failures due to the heavy load of eager runners looking to apply for a placement.
Zhang Yongliang, director of the Marathon Office of the Athletics Administrative Center of China’s General Administration of Sport, argues that the current marathon fever in China has helped increase local government revenue significantly thanks to increased tourist expenditures during the events. “Many cities have realized that marathon competitions can promote tourism. For example, the city of Hengshui held the first marathon on Sept. 23, 2012, boosting the city's tourist revenue by 300 percent”, Zhang told Yibada in an interview.
As COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute has discussed in a previous blog post, the number of Chinese tourists attending IAAF Gold Label marathons have rapidly increased the last few years, with many Chinese runners attending IAAF-awarded marathons in cities such as New York City, Boston, London, Tokyo, and the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast Airport Marathon held yearly in Queensland, Australia has seen its Chinese participants increase by over 900 percent the last two years.
Grace Pan, the Queensland tourism and events director for the greater China region told Chinese news agency Xinhua that promotional campaigns for the marathon have helped in attracting Chinese runners. The allure of running marathons in cities with little pollution is also said to contribute to the trend of outbound marathon tourism.
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