A single major sporting event last year brought about $1.9 million in visitor spending to Langley Township, according to a study released last week.
In March, 2018, the Township hosted 152 teams for the BC Basketball Provincial Championship, one of the biggest indoor youth sporting events in the province.
The study, conducted by the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance, found that the event brought 2,600 out of town visitors to Langley.
The average visitor stayed 3.5 days in the Township, and a survey found 82 per cent said they were likely to come back.
While here, they spent $1.9 million in total.
About $750,000 of that money went to local job wages, and 17 Langley jobs were supported directly by the event.
The event created about $3 million in economic activity in B.C. in total, and a $1.5 million boost to B.C.’s GDP, the study found.
The Township has only recently begun studying the economic impacts of major public events.
“This’ll be the first one for a sporting event,” said Val Gafka, the Township’s senior manager of economic investment and development.
The last such major study looked at the Langley Good Times Cruise-In’s first year in Aldergrove in 2017, after it relocated from Langley City.
The Township studied the basketball championships because it has been held in Langley several times and is likely to return again.
They directly surveyed attendees at the event to collect the data.
“Sport tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism in B.C.,” Gafka said.
The data collected can help attest to the kind of impact a similar major event may have on the Township, Gafka said.
The championship event was held at the Langley Events Centre, the Township’s largest existing sporting facility, with a hockey stadium, gymnastics facilities, and a field house with more gyms for basketball or volleyball games. The facility will mark 10 years in operation this year.
It’s unknown what the total impact of sports tourism is on Langley, but the Township, local tourism agencies, private operators, and local firms have been working to bring more events to Langley for more than a decade.
“We must have something to offer,” Gafka said. “Are we punching above our weight? I don’t know.”
Langley already hosts a number of high-level sports teams, including the Vancouver Giants, the Langley Thunder, and the Langley Rams.
Other significant events include the various summer showjumping events hosted by the Thunderbird Show Park, the BC Summer Games in 2010, and the 2014 BC Seniors Games, along with numerous smaller local and regional tournaments including sports such as softball, baseball, ball hockey, and lacrosse.