In 1996, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) introduced a program designed to promote community and tourism industry interest in development of sport tourism as a viable contributor to the economic well-being of local communities. The Canadian Sport Tourism Initiative was designed to increase the quality and quantity of sports events hosted in Canada.
Back then, as a result of some initial research, 27 Canadian communities indicated an interest and willingness to get involved in the Initiative as they perceived sports tourism to be an opportunity or a new niche market. Based on the positive support demonstrated by communities across Canada, in 1997, a partnership between the CTC, client communities and sport/tourism industry was borne. Through 1998, the Initiative resulted in 17 communities undertaking orientation sessions on sports tourism. A number of cities undertook the planning process and actively pursued commitments to prepare themselves for the sport tourism opportunity.
A February 1998 Sport Tourism Conference in Ottawa provided a forum for 37 communities to educate themselves about the opportunity, to share ideas amongst colleagues and to discuss their collective involvement into the future. As result, many more communities expressed their interest in becoming sport tourism ready.
In 1999, the CTC sought to solidify community and industry support for the Initiative and communities that opted into the Sport Tourism Initiative's community planning program participated in a comprehensive planning process. By the end of 1999, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Edmonton, London, Kingston, Hamilton, Moncton, St. John's, Gatineau and Western Newfoundland/Cornerbrook had undertaken the planning process.
A parallel process was the discussion towards the establishment of an industry-led national sport tourism coalition. The first steps in the process were to determine constituency interest in the Coalition and to define the organizational parameters and infrastructure requirements for a coalition and a national sport marketing organization.
Seen as an education and marketing driven organization, members of the coalition participated in discussions to formulate its mandate and objectives. A number of products and services to support the membership in the longer term were considered. All cities and sport friendly businesses and organizations were invited to join the Canadian Sports Tourism Coalition. Joining the Coalition planning process in 1999 were Nelson, Prince George, Brantford, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Guelph, Greater Sherbrooke and Saint John.
All of the efforts undertaken in 1999 culminated in the 2nd Conference on Canadian Sports Tourism held November 4-5, 1999 in Ottawa. Over 50 delegates from communities and sports organization across Canada participated in the two-day conference. Delegates had a variety of opportunities to learn more about sport tourism development; to network among themselves; to discuss the creation of a national sports tourism coalition and to develop a framework for the future.
The conference stimulated widespread support for sport tourism development. In addition to those communities already participating in the initiative, concrete support from the Canadian Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus [CACVB] was also solidified. The CACVB had passed a resolution to participate in further sports tourism development in Canada.
As a result of the conference and the endorsement received from the CACVB, two working committees were struck to carry on the necessary transition work for the newly formed Canadian Sports Tourism Coalition [CSTC]. The Transition Committee was established to develop the new organization’s go-forward plan, develop a business/financial plan, administrative details, programming and membership recruitment. The Product Club Committee was tasked to develop and submit an application to the Canadian Tourism Commission to seek approval in becoming a new product club under the CTC's Product Club Program.
In 2000, the CTC approved an application from the Canadian Sport Tourism Coalition to become an official CTC Product Club. In 2001, the organization officially changed its name to the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.