When people think of eSports, Central America isn’t a region that typically comes to mind. But when it comes to eSports competitions, the combination of beach territory and incredible scenery could make attending an event a more enriching experience that could benefit both the sport and Central America.
eSports tourism: A force to be reckoned with
When it comes to eSports, attendance is one of the most encouraging signs of its growth. And for the places that host these events, it is the out of market attendance that signifies the value of hosting competitions. Up to 70% of eSports event attendees are labeled as out-of-market attendees, meaning that people are traveling long distances to watch eSports in person. And when people are going to an event, that means that they’re contributing to the business growth of the local communities.
Given that eSports are spread across the world, rather than confined to domestic leagues in most cases, fans have to travel hundreds of miles to attend competitions. That means buying hotel stays and other accommodations that last longer than one day. This could spell immense benefits for Central American businesses if the region were to put a more defined focus on hosting future tournaments, which should be pursued with gusto.
Reasons for eSports popularity
There has been a meteoric rise in eSports popularity over the last few years, as competitive gaming has gone from a niche sport to one that is capable of filling arenas around the globe. One of the biggest reasons for that rise is the fact that eSports are more accessible to players than many other sports. While becoming an elite gamer requires plenty of hard work, it does not come with many of the barriers to entry that come with throwing 60-yard passes in football or slam-dunking a basketball. As a result, fans can cheer for outcomes that they are capable of achieving, creating more engaged supporters.
Additionally, eSports attendance continues to climb as interactive components like esports betting have brought fans closer to the action. Now, what exactly is esports betting? It allows the most ardent supporters to predict the outcomes of matches, cultivating a generation of more knowledgeable esports fans in what has become a big business. That knowledge has spawned a passion that has inspired fans to travel to competitions and buy merchandise. That’s also something that fans would likely do during events held in beautiful Belize as they have in other destinations across Europe, Asia, and North America.
How eSports could impact tourism in Central America
As it pertains to tourism in Central America, eSports could play a sizable role in the future if steps are made to bring the two together. With many vital eSports events being held in cities like Seoul and Seattle, organizers holding tournaments in Central America could provide a much-needed change of scenery from competitions held in cities to those held near the beach. And with the potential to create vacation packages around those tournaments, fans could enjoy everything Central America has to offer in between matches.
eSports could also provide a blueprint for other sports to move into the region for events in the future to make it an even more appealing destination. American college sports could be an area for that expansion to take place, given the current trajectory of both college basketball and football.
College basketball in the United States routinely features early-season tournaments in locations that include Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands, where some of the best teams in the sport clash outside of American soil. College football, meanwhile, features the Bahamas Bowl each year. Both sports already feature international competition, and if something like eSports proved that sporting events could go off without a hitch in Central America, the region could see those sports move in as well.
In and of itself, eSports is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Were Central America able to secure the opportunity to host events in the sport, it could see a strong attendance that has followed this sport around the world. Perhaps more importantly, eSports could open the door to the chance to host even more events from other sports and make the region an attractive destination for sports fans of all kinds.