EXPLORING PROFESSIONALS’ PERCEPTIONS OF TOURISM SEASONALITY AND SPORTS EVENTS: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF KISSAVOS MARATHON RACE
Local tourism professionals entail those who strongly face the personal and financial difficulties of tourism seasonality. The main purpose of this paper is to examine the local tourism professionals’ perceptions of a small-scale sports event, which is held in the off-season. Through the study of Kissavos Mountain Race — a small-scale running event that is held annually in the region of Agia Larissa — the contribution of such an event to seasonality mitigation is investigated. Accordingly, this study aims to describe how the local professionals of this mountainous village understand and interpret the relations between sustainable small-scale sports events and seasonality aspects. An exploratory study was designed to address the local professionals’ opinions regarding the effectiveness of the running event in mitigating seasonality as well as their willingness to support similar actions. Through a literature review on seasonality tourism, sustainability, and minor events, a semi-structured interview guide was created and twenty-five local tourism professionals were interviewed. Subsequently, data that reflect their perceptions of events and seasonality were collected. Based on the analysis of the replies, the respondents believe that the sports event impacts seasonality mitigation but only in conjunction with other actions. Most of them also converge on a strategy that would not only include the needs of visitors but also the authorities’ ongoing support of their businesses. On this basis, it is recommended that local and regional tourism managers use a variety of combination tools to smooth out seasonality. From a practical viewpoint, this study draws attention to the perspectives of local professionals and allows tourism policymakers to understand the market’s characteristics and needs. As it would be interesting to apply this investigation in different seasons for different areas, this study ultimately contributes to the tourism field by examining the contribution of a small-scale event to seasonality mitigation via a local stakeholder approach.
See the reference list in the article.