Assessing the development and impact of a major ski event in Sweden

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Keyword: Development of recurring events, Economic impact, Product diversification, Time-space aspects of participatory events, Clawson framework of expenditures
Publication year: 2005
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth
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This paper deals with the development of a major Swedish ski event, which takes place in the first week of March every year. The main race is called Vasaloppet. It is named after a Swedish king who allegedly on his escape from the Danes in the early 1500 hundreds first travelled the 90 kilometre distance from the town of Mora to the small village of Sälen. Sälen is today the most significant alpine resort in Sweden with a total accommodation capacity of around 60,000 beds. The Vasaloppet race starts in Sälen and ends in Mora. In 1922 when the first Vasaloppet race took place the number of contestants were some 130 skiers. About 80 years later the number of races have grown to in all seven different ones and the total number of participants runs close to 45,000. In addition to this there are some 10,000 spectators coming to Mora to see Vasaloppet alone. In the year 1990 the entire competition had to be cancelled as a result of an unusually mild winter resulting in lack of snow. At that time no accurate estimates of the economic impact of the event were available and at the same time there were a great demand for estimates of the economic loss, which the region faced as a result of the event being called off. Thus, in the year 1992 a major study was undertaken by the author in order to assess the economic impact of the Vasaloppet ski race. In fact at that time the one competition from 1922 had developed into three different competitions, namely Vasaloppet, Öppet Spår and Tjejvasan. The first two are both 90 kilometres in distance but Tjejvasan, only open to female participation, runs over 30 kilometres. Then in 2004 there is a need for an updated study and now the Vasaloppet is in fact an event consisting of seven different races. The study from 2004 is based on a web survey. All participants which had a known e-mail address were contacted by e-mail and were asked to participate and were provided with a link to the website where the questionnaire was located. Foreign participants were asked to complete a questionnaire in English. The returns showed a slight bias, respondents being on average younger than non-respondents and those for which an e-mail address was missing. In order to compensate for this skewness the entire sample was weighted based on age. The response rate was fairly low, some 20% on average for the different races. A contributing factor seems to be that the questionnaire could only be reached by specifying the starting number as an entering code. Several skiers had forgotten their number and that have most likely deterred quite a few. Among the findings are that the impact in real terms appears linear and thus it has about tripled since 1992. Vasaloppet, which now is a full week of different races – Vasaloppsveckan –, clearly shows the potential attributable to recurring events. When an event is recurring it makes sense to view marketing as part of the investment for future returns and the benefits don not have to be captured in one moment, as is the case for events only taking place once in the same location. The races during the Vasaloppet week have different market areas and slightly different segments of skiers as well. Vasaloppet, the main race has grown to a considerable international presence, which runs close to 20%. The distance decay function in the market area almost starts at the border of Sweden. A significant finding of the 2004 study is that Vasaloppsveckan makes people travel away from home including overnight stay in order to get in shape for the race. It is estimated that training away from home amounts to a total of around 96,000 training days, which is perhaps slightly less in nights away from home but yet it represent a substantial value. The lion’s share of all this ski tourism is found in major resorts not to far away from Mora. Notably the resorts of Sälen, Idre and Funäsdalen are well represented. Thus if Vasaloppsveckan generates a total direct turnover of some 115 million SEK (12.8 million euro) training away from home will generate a turnover which could be estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 75% of the Vasaloppsveckan itself. The ski event also generates summer tourism in the area. The study has not made any measures of expenditures on skiing equipment etc which takes place in the home locations of the participants. Nonetheless the study shows that a well managed recurring event can turn into a significant business activity for the local economy concerned but also that an event can create considerable effects which are both trickle-down and trickle-up in nature.


Magnus Bohlin

Högskolan Dalarna; Kulturgeografi
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