Sunday, October 7, 2007
SPORT TOURISM AS A NICHE MARKET FOR JAMAICA
As Jamaica and the rest of the world prepare for the Summer Olympic Games scheduled for August 8 – 24, 2008 in Beijing, China, it seems that the sporting tourists will be coming to Jamaica a lot next year.
The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) has given permission for one of Jamaica’s premier event to be used as Olympic Qualifier, the Gibson Relays. That is exciting news!
The Jamaican athletes are not just the most sought after athletes to compete, but our facilities and events are being positioned to attract the best of the world. So the track and field calendar which from as early as December 2007 will have premier events with top-class athletes. Watch out for the Gibson Relays, scheduled for February 23, 2008. Also, Saturday, May 3 is the date where the Jamaica International Invitational is expected to be held.
Those events are just for track and field, but world cup football qualifier will get cracking soon and so the “office” will also be hosting additional international tournaments which will again, test our ability to host major events.
So Kingston will be buzzing soon; but what of the golf courses and the other facilities in and around the island? The community groups, agencies and other noted promoters of major sporting events should by now have dates for other major sporting events for 2008. Let’s roll them out now, if you haven’t done so already.
Use of training facilities
We have seen where athletes and their management teams have come here in the off season to prepare themselves and that is an additional plug for Jamaica. Let’s encourage them to return. The climate, clean air and the warmth of the Jamaican people are just three things why these athletes should come here to train.
Trends for 2008
Randall Travel Marketing in a 2007 publication indicated that Youth Sports Travel is a market to watch. The report indicated that 52 million Americans attended a sporting event either as a spectator or a participant in 2006. These youth also had their parents/guardians with them.
The publication has also reported that reunions do have a sport element to it and can be seen as a market to tap into. The Travel Industry Association (2007) states that “more travelers are taking two vacations per year and a sporting event is one of the many reasons.”
Jamaica therefore is well positioned to capitalize on the sport tourism market and we have the facilities, trained professionals, accommodation and other accessories for users from near and far.
Research and Development
I am asking the University of Technology (UTECH) and University of the West Indies to focus a little more attention on Sport Tourism as a course offering so the interest can be heightened. It will inform us as a nation even more.
New Sport Minister
Welcome to Ms. Olivia Grange, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport. Let’s keep the focus on infrastructure, funding and development plans to keep Jamaica’s sport on Track. Congrats also to Neville “Teddy” McCook on being elected North America, Central America and the Caribbean (NACAC) Chairman in addition to being IAAF area representative.
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