The aim of this article is to chart and analyze Internet marketing of sport and leisure tourism, with a special focus on horse-riding tourism. The article will spotlight marketing directed to the physically active tourist, that is, tourists travelling to destinations to participate in a physical activity (i.e. not spectators). Previous research has demonstrated that increased interest in sport tourism has rendered effective marketing essential for travel companies. Yet, despite growing interest in sport tourism in general and horse tourism in particular, studies of the marketing of horse tourism are scarce. The source material for the present article consists of the websites of three different horse travel agencies. The analysis is based on both quantitative and qualitative data. Firstly, we mapped out all trips offered (offers N=559) in relation to continents, countries, and types. Secondly, we performed a content analysis of pictures (pictures N=110) and texts promoting trips to Spain (offers N=9). Our findings indicate that the travel agencies focus their marketing on Southern Europe, and particularly Spain. Trail rides are the most frequently recurring trips offered. The marketing builds on story-telling related to trust; (implied) common experiences of organizer and tourist in relation to horses and horsemanship; and natural and cultural landscapes. In contrast to the representation of women in other sport contexts, women in horse tourism are portrayed as active participants in a challenging athletic activity. The representation is, however, complex. Firstly, true horsemanship is represented as masculine. Secondly, the representation of women as strong and active in the marketing of horse tourism may be interpreted as part of the ‘girl power’ discourse connected to neoliberal constructions of the female body. Thirdly, horses are also clearly important in the marketing. Although this observation may seem redundant, it nonetheless highlights the importance of animals as workers in sport tourism.
AAGE RADMANN is an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Physical Education and Outdoor Studies at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. His research area is within the sociology of sport with special interest in sport media, sport and gender, sport and violence, and sport tourism. His articles have appeared in a range of scholarly journals and he has written two books about football culture and hooliganism for an audience outside academia. He has contributed to two Swedish national reports focusing on sport and violence. Since 2015, Radmann is engaged in a research project on Female Fans funded by Swedish Research Council for Sport Sciences. In 2018 he received funding with Susanna Hedenborg for the research project Stable Cultures in Cyberspace.
SUSANNA HEDENBORG is a professor in Sport Science, Malmö University. Hedenborg has an academic background in social and economic history. In her sport research she has focused on childhood and youth studies, gender, and equestrian sports. She is the author of numerous articles and text books in sport science. Hedenborg is affiliated to the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and president of the Swedish Research Council for Sport Science.
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