Touch titlesworth $2mil. to city

By LEE McDOUGALL

IF Coffs Harbour feels a bit busier this week, that's probably because there are some 4500 touch football enthusiasts here.

This week is the city's 10th hosting of the National Touch Football Titles, with more than 3500 players in a record 123 teams.

"This is the highest number of players we have ever had, and then there is their families and support crews as well," Coffs Harbour Sports Unit manager Ben Payne said.

"Also for the first time this year is the tournament being filmed live into New Zealand television as well as being recorded for Foxtel nationally."

While it is easy to put a dollar value on the arrival of 4500 visitors to the city ? $2.2million to be exact ? it is almost impossible to put a financial figure on the exposure received as a result of the touch titles being screened in New Zealand.

"We couldn't buy an hour's worth of television in New Zealand so to get this kind of exposure is amazing," Mr Payne said.

Sports tourism is a multi-billion dollar business for the Coffs Coast and is nationally one of the fastest growing and most intriguing of modern-day service industries.

Driving the growth of sport tourism has been increased global interest in sporting events on the back of the massive expansion in satellite and digital television coverage over the last 10 years.

The combination of more leisure time, more disposable income and availability of cheaper travel has meant that sport is no longer just an add-on for travellers ? it is the entire reason to travel in the first place.

And for the Coffs Coast, this is good news.



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