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Mega Event & Hallmark Event 8

Mega-Event and Hallmark Eevent

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Tourism phenomenon that entails non-permanent movement by individuals away from their work place for purpose of recreation has grown tremendously. Getz et al., (2012, p. 47) observes that in earlier years and restricted version, tourism has been highly characterised by hospitality, museums, amusement parks and so on. However, there was the realisation that event industry was unexploited avenue for attracting tourists. Getz et al., (2012, p. 48) indicates that event organisation (event tourism) has grown to be one of the core events in tourist attraction as it offers or promise to offer entertainment, celebrations and so on in a given limited time frame as either a planned activity or unplanned. As planned activity, the types of events that can be organised include special events, hallmark-event and mega-event. As such, the aim of this paper is to distinguish between mega-event and hallmark by assessing their defining characteristics and their role in encouraging tourism. It also provides case studies or examples of mega-events and hallmark events in the world.

Mega-Event vs. Hallmark-Event

Getz et al., (2012, p. 47) conceptualises mega-events as huge-scale and extensive engagements that are directed towards promoting regional economic development anchored on the rationale that these mega-events are able to attract investments, media coverage and tourism for the host nation of city. For them a case example of mega-event is the Olympics. Fourie & Santana-Gallego (2011, p. 1364) sees mega-event as high status or prestigious international event that has a restricted time span, but with enduring effect on the host city or nation. In an expanded perspective, Fourie & Santana-Gallego (2011, p.1364) notes that mega-event entail, ‘large-scale cultural (including commercial and sporting) events, which have a dramatic character, mass popular appeal and international significance’.

In their conceptualisation, Fourie & Santana-Gallego (2011, p.1364) goes beyond international significance of these commercial, sporting and cultural events by introducing the uniqueness in terms of rareness and hosting rights. According to them, the whole of the whole process is that they are rare in nature or occurs in limited version say once annually in a given specific locality/ city. In a nutshell, mega-events hosting rights are awarded to a specific city and thus, it will not likely that it will be experienced in another city for that time. For instance, Olympic is hosted once every four years only in one city. The same is applicable to FIFA World Cup that is hosted in one country after every four years. Other case examples of mega-events include, but not limited to Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup.

However, the most expose that adequately conceptualises and contextualise mega-event is the literatures by Malfas, Houlihan & Theodoraki (2004). Malfas, Houlihan & Theodoraki (2004, p.210) opines that for in-depth examination of what mega-projects entails, it is imperative identifying parameters or criteria that demarcates mega-projects. In this regard, the essence and core function is to pinpoint the outstanding characteristics that differentiate it from other events/ tourism events. As such, they posit that mega-event can be identified in dualistic scope that entails internal and external characteristics. In the first regard (internal characteristics), the issue of duration and scale emerges. Within their discourse, scale refers to a number of individuals engaged, spectators, organisational complexity and individual sessions. In regard to external characteristics, issues such as enhanced media focus, tourism attractiveness and other impact on host city are considered.

On the other hand, Malfas, Houlihan & Theodoraki (2004, p.214) conceptualise hallmark-event as occurrences that are limited in duration and are promoted precisely to create awareness, enhance appeal and profitability of a destination either with long term or short term aspirations as the driving force. The epitome of these events is to rely on its uniqueness as the centre for creation of uniqueness. In simplistic view, the events organised within this context are aimed at spurring the host location to hit their hallmark in terms of tourism. Fourie & Santana-Gallego (2011) notes that for a location that is embedded in tourism to attain ‘hallmark’ status, it is requisite to constantly engage in recurring activities as opposed to one of events.

Getz et al., (2012, p.48) observes that tourism industry is demarcated by low productivity as result of the cyclical demand in travel, leisure and recreation. According to the perspective fronted by Getz et al., (2012, p.48), hallmark-event aspirations is to aid in boosting prominence of a location albeit for a short period of time. In this conceptualisation, hallmark-event is not premised on the traditional promotion fronted by tourism industry players of long term target. However, the approach is seen as a strategic positioning that is fronted so as to overcome seasonal variations in tourism industry. Nevertheless, they still display some similarities to mega-events as they are able to focus media attention on the hosting location and external benefits. Getz et al., (2012, p.48) indicates the ability of hallmark-events falls within the fact that they are unique and timely in significance and thus able to build interest and attract attention.

From the above conceptualisation, there are numerous distinguishing features between mega-event and hallmark event. One of these features is that hallmark event is primarily conducted to promote tourism in the short and long run expectations. On the other hand, mega-events have numerous aspirations. Fourie & Santana-Gallego (2011, p.1364) sums the whole context for mega-event by indicating that it is highly associated with higher degree of media coverage, beyond normal presence of tourist at one given time and economic ripple effect. Secondly, the other distinguishing observation is that hallmark-events are mostly meant to address cyclical problem of under productivity associated with arrival fluctuations in tourism sector. As such, most events are organised in low peak period so as to cover for these periods (Getz et al., 2012, p.48). The opposite is true for mega-events whom its most calendar are dictated by the awarding organisations (Fourie & Santana-Gallego, 2011, p.1364).

Thirdly, mostly mega-event are organised by external entities and that is why most countries compete through bids so as to be given the rights to host the event for that limited time (Fourie & Santana-Gallego 2011, p. 1364). For instance, Olympic is held once in every four years and is awarded by IOC or Football World Cup that is awarded by FIFA (Fourie & Santana-Gallego, 2011, p.1364). This is the exact opposite in most hallmark-events. Hallmark-events are mostly organised by various internal institutions strategically to promote tourism in a continuous basis specifically for tourism purposes albeit once in a year. These might include cultural events or host of sporting or music events annually such as marathons, food festival and jazz festivals.

One of the hallmark-events that have been able to attract tourism destination is the Pietarsaari host community. The community host numerous activities throughout the year. This allows them to attract tourists in disregard of the seasons. An example of events that they host include Ostrobothnia food festival, Jeppis Jaz festival and Jacobs Dagar (Omorogie, 2012, p.24-27). Finally the difference that emerges is that ‘mega’ can be taken from the context of global affair (Getz et al., 2012, p.50).

Their Role in Encouraging Tourism

Getz et al. (2012, p.51) notes that hallmark events or mega-events should lead to positive image and attract international arrivals. The first role of the two events in encouraging tourism falls within the rationale that they are able to elicit international media coverage. With such enhanced coverage, a destination/ host city is sure to access global reach as they are beamed in international media platform. For instance, sponsors of events have been known to engage in marketing of the event location by depicting unique attractions of that country so as to enhance their brand reputation. This works in a double edged manner as the reputation of the host country equally goes up (Malfas, Houlihan & Theodoraki, 2004, p.211). In a nutshell, through improved media coverage, there is increased chance of awareness and improved information.

Such media buzz is likely to lead into immediate effect during the events or future arrivals. For instance, in overall view Fourie & Santana-Gallego (2011, p.1369) notes that hosting mega-events such as Summer Olympic Game could contribute as much as 155 increase tourism arrival. Specifically, they cite the example of Sydney Summer Olympic that saw tourism arrival increase 43%. The same is corroborated by Getz et al. (2012, p. 53) who notes that as result of intense publicity and positive image a city’s international profile is magnified leading to increased arrivals of tourists. For instance, Sydney city recorded 2.1 million arrival of oversees visitors from 1995 to 2004. The same experience of increased tourist arrival has been experienced in South Korea/ Japan when they hosted FIFA World Cup where they experienced 18% increase in arrival. France after successfully hosting FIFA World Cup in 1998 equally experienced a 12% increase in arrivals. Pietarsaari town office plays a great part in developing tourism in this region. The hallmark event in this region has played a major role towards development of tourism products in the region (Omorogie, 2012, p.26). This has seen a significant increase in tourism and their related activities and subsequent improvement of the economic activities in the region. This is a clear indication of the impacts that hallmark event has on tourism.

The next perspective in promoting tourism is related to the fact that it supports development of activities that supports and attracts local and international tourists (Getz et al., 2012, p.52). As such the greatest contribution of these events to tourism is to raise profile of a given location through entertainment and leisure activities.

For instance, Malfas, Houlihan & Theodoraki (2004, p.214) notes that hosting of events such as Olympics can significantly rejuvenate peoples interest in participation of events that attract huge numbers and thus growth of tourism. Equally, investments especially in mega-events lead to development of legacy projects that eases the whole process of tourism. A case example is the development of transit system, recreation and leisure parks which are integral for tourism activities. Moreover, continuous application of hallmark-events can lead to creation of distinct cultural activities that sustains tourism in any region worldwide (Malfas, Houlihan & Theodoraki 2004, p.214).


The aim of the paper was to distinguish between mega-event and hallmark-event. The paper found out there are distinct differences between the two domains. The distinctive features are that mega-event is onetime events hosted in rotational manner by various countries. On the other hallmark-events are done continuously on annual basis and hosted by the same country or communities. Additionally, it was established that hallmark-events are most utilised to address the cyclic issue of low turnout while mega-event has a multi pronged objective. In terms of contribution to tourism, it was found out that the two contributes to media buzz leading to enhanced profile and increased tourist arrival and subsequent increase of economic benefits related to toursim.


Allen, J., O`Toole, W., Harris, R. & McDonnell, I 2011, Festival & Special Event Management, Australia, John Wiley & Sons.

Fourie, J & Santana-Gallego, M 2011, The impact of mega-sport events on tourist arrivals, Tourism Management, 32(6), 1364-1370.

Getz, D., Svensson, B., Peterssen, R., & Gunnervall, A 2012, Hallmark events: Definition, goals and planning process, International Journal of Event Management Research, 7(1/2), 47-67.

Malfas, M., Houlihan, B & Theodoraki, E 2004, Impacts of the Olympic Games as mega- events, Institution of Civil Engineers, Vol. 157, Issue. ME3, p. 209-220.

Omoregie, E 2012, The impacts of event tourism on host communities, Case: the City of Pietarsaari.