Sports ETA, the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, leveraged the pandemic to create a new industry-leading education and research platform to reposition the organization to guide its members for the hospitality restart.

Last year, the Sports Tourism Learning Institute (STLI) was launched and includes a variety of online self-paced and self-guided education certificates. The STLI is the exclusive educational platform offered by Sports ETA. Currently, nine new courses are available with topics ranging from Innovation to Sports Facility Management, Crisis Communications, and Esports for Business.

All of these courses were created by industry experts from the following: 4FRONT, Destinations International, Game Day, GameChanger Consulting, Kansas City Sports Commission, P7 Content and Tourism Economics.


Source- Tourism Economics

Source- Tourism Economics

“One silver lining of the pandemic was the speed with which our team was able to innovate and bring to market new programs and offerings designed to guide our sports events tourism industry in post-pandemic planning,” said Al Kidd, president and CEO of Sports ETA. “During the early stages of the pandemic, we worked to keep members connected and supported through virtual technology. We also created resources for our members to develop new protocols for health and safety standards and we created virtual events and marketplaces for our members and events’ rights holders to conduct business for future planning.”

Additionally, the industry designation of Certified Sports Events Executive (CSEE) was reimagined and modernized with higher-level content and a more industry representative Sports Tourism Strategist (STS) designation. In all, 44 Sports ETA members were recognized in the first class of STS graduates last year.

For the first time since 2019, Sports ETA members and industry thought leaders will gather in Birmingham, Alabama for the organization’s annual symposium over the last week of October.

“The common theme of the symposium will be to discuss and declare the undeniable position of strength that the sports events and tourism business is the main catalyst for the reentry and restart to the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Kidd.

Research will continue to play an important role for Sports ETA. Later this year, Sports ETA will conduct the second edition of its groundbreaking study: “State of the Sports Tourism Industry Report in America presented by the Sports Events and Tourism Association in partnership with the Northstar Meetings Group.”

The inaugural report was released in 2020 to benchmark 2019, and concluded that U.S. sports travelers, event organizers and venues spent a total of $45.1 billion in 2019, an increase of over 5 percent from the previous year, generating $103.3 billion in direct, indirect, and induced business sales.

Earlier this year, Sports ETA led by Dr. Jennifer Stoll introduced the research study: “Expanded Definition of Success for the Sports Events and Tourism Industry” to redefine the impact of sports events and tourism industry in local communities. Dr. Stoll and her research colleagues argue that the success of hosting sporting events for a community should look beyond the number of hotel room nights booked to measure many additional desirable outcomes for host communities.

“A community may host an event due to the platform it provides to enhance the destination’s brand perception and awareness, or earned media, rather than due to economic impact,” said Dr. Stoll. “This is often the case with large-scale sporting events due to the incremental costs associated with hosting. The collective sports events and tourism industry would be wise to embrace a substantial expansion of what success means and how it is measured.”


  • Chief Executive Summit, January 26-27, 2022 in Las Vegas NV
  • 4S & Rights Holders Summit, March 1-3, 2022 in El Paso, TX
  • Women’s Summit, March 30-April 1, 2022 in Minneapolis, MN
  • Sports Facilities Summit, May 2, 2022 in Fort Worth, TX
  • Sports ETA Symposium, May 2-5, 2022 in Fort Worth, TX
  • 4S & Rights Holders Summit, October 25-27, 2022 in Sarasota, FL


As the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, Sports ETA is the most trusted resource for sports commissions, destination marketing organizations (DMOs), and sports event owners. Sports ETA is committed to the success of more than 850 member organizations and 2,400 sports event tourism professionals. Our promise is to deliver quality education, ample networking opportunities and exceptional event management and marketing know-how to our members, and to protect the integrity of the sports events and tourism industry. For more information, visit