Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review 2008, Preview of 2009

Most of you would have read all my contributions regarding the need for Jamaica to capitalise more on Sport Tourism. As we close 2008 and look forward to 2009, let us hope for a brighter tomorrow

Highlights of 2008

Summer Olympic Games in Beijing

Usain Bolt's 9:69 seconds in the 100 metres, 19:30 seconds in the 200 metres
Jamaica's women sprinters in the 100 metres all on the podium

Michael Phelps in the pool, eight medals

American Football: New York Giants taking the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots. Manning was stunning!

NBA: Boston Celtics win in the NBA. Pierce was fierce!

Look out for the SuperBowl

NFL: Indianoplis Colts, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins (winner could come from here)

NBA: Boston looks vulnerable, but could repeat. Lakers are looking FOINE!

Track and field: Bolt, Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay
Shelly Ann Fraser, Veronica Campbell, Melaine Walker will sizzle in Berlin

Sport fan prepare thyself for an exciting ride in 2009

More time!

Monday, December 29, 2008


So the last two times we spoke, I recommended we target college students and to have a joint marketing effort for Sport Tourism and Entertainment. The response to those two suggestions has been good.

Another recommendation I would like to put on the table is a familiarization (FAM) tour of well known and targeted journalists/media entities who would find this concept of “Jamaica as the Sport Tourism Capital of the World” exciting and interesting enough to take a trip.

Well as we approach probably one of the most exciting sporting calendars anywhere this side of the world, with the track and field, netball, football, basketball and volleyball events scheduled to take place in 2009; let’s make a special effort to promote this destination.

Track and field has been given the edge, simply because the World Championship is on this year in Germany and the Jamaican athletes have grabbed the attention of the world and there are other athletes who are out to get them. Not just there though, there are other athletes in Jamaica who will be jostling for positions on various teams.

So the Gibson Relays, the high school spectacle – Boys and Girls Championships will maybe attract one of the biggest crowds in 2009. Fans are hungry for good sporting competition. And with the Reggae Boys out of the World Cup, the other sports will fill the gap. These sporting disciplines are traditional and so it is the packaging of the participants which will have to marketed properly.


On the non-traditional side; how about a mountain climbing competition on the Blue Mountain Peak? I know it is just over a mile up, but this is Jamaica. While there they can see where the best coffee comes from, possibility where some of the best tasting water comes from and lots of other fascinating history lessons to be learnt. Promote it for during the time of Misty Bliss. There is also a cycling trail which can be accessed to attract another type of participants.

How about a walk race from Ocho Rios to Runaway Bay? I am just thinking of the many possibilities we have and in these challenging times, creativity and innovation must take precedence.


Invite targeted media here and show them the lay of the land. This has to be directed at the Sport/Business journalists. Go outside the United States and look seriously at Germany for example. Following the performance of Jamaica at the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the world is expecting great performances and competition. Bring them here to excite them from early.

There are nine strong newspapers in Germany which cover sport. Here is a quote from a website “After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1990, Germany became one of the greatest nation sport ever had, and sport press couldn't be different!”

They take sport seriously. Let us capitalize.

Note: The feedback has been great from you all this great keep the emails and phone calls coming. I appreciate them.
As we are in the Yuletide season, let us care for those among us who are less fortunate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joint Marketing for Sport Tourism and Entertainment

Ever since the days of Reggae Sunsplash and in recent times Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica has had a tremendous impact on the entertainment market both at home and abroad. Equally, sporting events hosted in Jamaica has had equal impact, from the Norman Manley Games to the May Invitational. So what this means, is, there is great importance on cultural and sporting events.

In capitalizing on the synergy which exists, the country has to be committed to ensuring that the systems are in place for joint marketing to take place. In these trying economic times, creativity in promotion is way more necessary.

There first has to be political commitment. At the planning level, however, the best event planners must be consulted. Also all the stakeholders have to be on board for this to be successful; from small to large properties. When the crowds come, we ought to have the capacity to accommodate them. Plan these events for when tourist arrival is at the peak periods, so there is guaranteed support from the overseas market.


Studies have shown that the people who like entertainment, generally like sport and vice versa. As promoters in this country we should first of all agree that sport = entertainment. So whether it is a sport event or a concert, we must give the consumers value for their money. It would even be more worthwhile when they are combined in the same package.

In 1999, the Germans reported a total of 58 million outbound holiday trips. Of that total they reported that 32 million or 55 per cent involved a sport oriented trip. The report also stated that 55 per cent of that total were men, ages 35 – 44 years of age, who spent from four to seven nights spending anywhere between 250 – 499 Euros each.

The same report highlighted that also in 1999, 52 per cent of the 13 million outbound holiday trips from the Netherlands involved a sport oriented trip with the same spend, but the most dominant age group was men aged 25 – 34 years of age. While France had a 23 per cent of its travelers attending sport related trips, they spent up to 500 – 749 Euros each.

How have we capitalized on those three markets in marketing Jamaica as a sport tourism destination? It was suggested at a sport tourism conference some years ago that sport makes a society feel like themselves (again), especially in a time of stress.

Talent abound

The talent in both sport and entertainment is plenty in Jamaica and so we have the basic ingredients. I know there are some calendar events which may not be easy to adjust, so let us work with what we have. Jazz and Blues in January – how about another triathlon then? We have 3,000 extra rooms built in recent times.

Sumfest in July…how about a beach football, beach volleyball, mountain climbing tournament? These are just a few of the non traditional sporting events which attract the sport and entertainment tourists.

Try it

I want us to try these new and innovative ways in our thinking. I see where the Jamaica Tourist Board has appointed an officer to pay close attention to sport tourism. It has to be the best move in a long while. I just hope Howard McIntosh gets the support he will need for the programmes to be effective.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Employment and the Sporting Industry in Jamaica

With sport being one of the fastest growing industries in the world, more and more jobs can and are being created as a result.

Jamaica should be no different and it is a clear opportunity to be able to build the capacity of the industry which has given so much to this country for well over 60 years. The Ministry of Sport and its agencies along with private sector partners must now create the environment where sport is recognized and seen as a viable option for growth and development in the Jamaican economy.

Former Prime Minister, Hon. Edward Seaga, in his research has indicated the sporting industry employs approximately 22,474 people generating some US$700 million. This figure people employed directly to sport and its related areas.
Without proper measurement tools to capture the real value, it does contribute something to the gross domestic product (GDP). What then is the plan to formalise this industry and use it to the benefit of our society?

The employment figure represents almost the same as the number of teachers, which is significant enough to be noticed. That number can be increased and add value to the industry and eventually to the economy. While we devise those strategies we may want to liaise with the Planning Institute of Jamaica to see how we can measure the impact on GDP.

In challenging economic times, there are some products which will always be consumed and sport, like entertainment remains attractive. I urge the powers that be to take this much more seriously than we have.

Sporting federations cannot carry the burden alone. There main aim is to prepare their athletes for respective competitions which the country benefits from; but the management of the industry has to be guided by a policy which enables the environment for sport to be economically viable. Credit must be given to those federations which have been vigilant over the years and they continue to do well. The environment has not been the easiest to work with. Policy will help to level the playing field and NOW is the time. We are sitting on a gold mine and we are not capitalizing on it.

Businessman, Michael Hall, wrote “the resources required to make the policy work must come out of a partnership between those who control the means to make it happen and those with a common vision.”

We however will have to be patient as we develop the process and the plan; as the success will not happen overnight.

If we look at the football situation, we can safely say, planning has been missing from that equation and hence our talent growth could be affected due to lack of motivation.

It may be a requirement for the country to declare its hands on the sporting areas that matter

• Core sports – those to invest in to achieve excellence, e.g track and field, football, netball, cricket and basketball
• Network sports – those that can give us great networking opportunity e.g. golf, tennis, beach volleyball (great made for TV events)
• Targeted sports – investment in individual athletes who can be identified at the world level in KEY events e.g. equestrian, swimming, badminton
• Non-investment sports – those which are taught from the basic level and are part of a general physical education programme from the primary school level. This is a good opportunity for development of potential teams

We ought to make up our minds!

Burrell blames Simoes

Management of a Sporting Organisation

Jamaica has so many pluses regarding sport and its ability to unite the people. The men and women of Jamaica has, for in over 60 years performed at the highest level and have brought significant attention to the country, right across the world.

One thing that has been questionable, is the ability of our sport adminstrators to manage effectively. It becomes even more difficult when we have the extensive talent we still continue to have in this country.

On the matter of football...Brazilian, Rene Simoes came to Jamaica in the 1990s and returned in the 2008, but the results were different. Jamaica qualified for France in 1998; in 2008 the story change. Both times though under the leadership of Captain Horace Burrell. What then has changed...error in judgement.

Burrell as the employer is to be blamed as was Simoes for the failure of the Jamaican team to make it to the final round of the 2010 World Cup, scheduled for South Africa.

There were way too many experiments at the national level with coaches and the selection of the team for each match was way off. Burrell has to take the blame.

As for his comment regarding local coaches and the national team, lesson 1: "we have to believe in our own, for others to believe is us"...Captain, your comments are way off base and is a disservice to Theodore Whitmore, who has a 100 per cent record. Doesn't results matter? I thought so!

Whitmore needs to be invested in. He knows the football, create in him a master of Jamaican style of football. Why countries want to import our services and we are busy importing services from overseas.

Train him! It can be done! Burrell has to be made responsible for his action, it is not for him to pass the blame.

Track and field has successfully used local coaches and its success is tremendous. Look at Glen Mills, Stephen Francis and DOnald Quarrie, they are all being sought overseas.

Football can copy this template. Especially when the Manning and Dacosta Cup competitions are just as competitive as the high schools track and field. Both have the same base at the school level.

Just some ideas for the Jamaica Football Federation...plan, plan, plan; short, medium and long term planning.

Let's get cracking for the 2014 World Cup!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Using Sport Tourism as a gateway to wider tourism initiatives

Sport tourists are passionate! Sport tourists are high spending! Sport tourists are always open to new experiences! What can Jamaica do to attract more of these types of visitors? In this challenging economic climate, a destination must have diverse offerings to attract and keep tourists coming back over and over again.

The US$4.5 trillion industry is expected to see at least 10 per cent growth by 2011, according to Sport Business International. Cities around the world are becoming increasingly dependent of the visiting tri-athlete, golfer, cricketer, track athlete and footballer and Jamaica can benefit from these sports.

The average golfer is passionate, high spending and will more than likely try a new experience, so attractions become very important. So the Mystic Mountains, Chukka Blue and White River (tubing) are key attractions to maintain.


Take a look at the typical football fan, which travels to support his/her team of choice. Fully prepared with clothing to wear to the games, but will also spend to buy any kind of souvenir items available. There are also some items which a fan is not able to travel with and so those items, if available, are purchased at the venue for the games. These are flags or anything with sticks. Locals have a real opportunity to earn. The passionate sport tourist may also like great music/entertainment, so plays, musical shows and night clubs are a great addition to a package.

High Spending

Golfers are deemed to be some of the highest spending tourists in the world, and so the tastes are generally in the higher end. So great entertainment – Jazz shows, expensive wines, great cuisine. They will spend. Development of packages to suit the tastes must be done. The element of research should not be avoided and companies should invest.

The Business of Sport Tourism Report by Ross Biddiscombe is available for €690/476 pounds/US$815. This publication gives an extensive range of intelligence report in the sport tourism industry. It also identifies events and destinations which are key contributors to the growth and development of this sector.

The events which were used as case studies include, Athens Olympic Games 2004, Volvo Ocean Race, World Cup Cricket 2003 (South Africa); and the New York Marathon, to name a few; while some of the more popular destinations for sport tourism include Australia, Canada, Northern Ireland and South Africa.

In doing the research for this column, it was interesting to note than the major buyers for this report are private sector organisations. Financial institutions were also heavy on the list. So while we expect Government to develop policy, private sector activity must drive the economy.

I therefore call for an Advisory Team to work with the Ministry of Tourism, specifically on Sport Tourism. The team should consist of a planner, researcher, marketer, communicator, manager and maybe two other persons who are sport-business minded. Not more than seven is needed. A ten year plan can be drafted and must be done in conjunction with the ministries and agencies which design and implement activities worthy on capitalizing on the trillion dollar sport tourism industry.

Note: I know the Rose Hall team is already on the phone for the 2009 version of the Rose Hall WATA triathlon. What an event that should turn out to be? Triathletes, on average take up to five members of their families…so do the math!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Triathlon, an event to boost sport tourism in Jamaica

Carole Beckford, Contributor

The Rose Hall Triathlon, which ended in Jamaica last weekend, was a clear indication that the tourism sector is maximising its opportunities for the development of sports as a valuable aspect of the tourism product.

The triathlon, by nature, suggests endurance, and so Jamaica is making sure there is diversity to its tourism product to attract a wider cross section of visitors to the island.

What was amazing about this massive three-day event was the opportunity for guests from home and abroad to not just experience the event, but also to see wellness in a new light.

fit principles

This event is well-timed, as following on the heels of the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China; the curious onlookers tried to figure out what was it Jamaican athletes were doing that made them so great. The wellness aspect highlighted just some of the positives.

From the seminars which took place on October 24, it was evident that Jamaica's foods had something in them no other types of foods have, and the presenters called for the authorities to "ensure that all is done environmentally to protect the foods in Jamaica."

Most triathlons do not have this type of wellness fest, but trust Jamaica to be innovative, and it worked, as people from all walks of life listened and interacted with presenters on principles of staying fit and healthy. These principles varied, but the real story which emerged was "Jamaican athletes were special and it is something to nurture because of the nature in Jamaica."

big-city event

Triathlons are generally held in big cities and these competitions, which include cycling, swimming and running, date back to the 1920s. Reports have indicated that the triathlon was used as 'off-beat training exercise for runners'. Jamaica, as an island, is in a great place for the development of this event as an attraction and could even be seen as a source of early training for some of our athletes as we seek to further strengthen our athletics programme.

The sport made its debut in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and is now in a number of cities across the world, attracting thousands of competitors worldwide each year. There are even shorter versions for children.

Why not Jamaica then? The Treasure Beach group has hosted a successful triathlon, and now Rose Hall has come on board. It is the way to go for diversity and with proper organisation can also attract great media attention to the sport and Jamaica.

stage is set

Certainly our beaches are available for the swimming leg and with the major improvement in the road network, cycling is not too challenging either. For Montego Bay, the Catherine Hall Sports Complex, home of the Montego Bay Relays, could be the venue for the running aspect. So the stage is set.

This column supports diversity and new and innovative ideas, as in this time of strange economic events, a destination has to get creative. Jamaica, as always, sits on a gold mine and should explore all the opportunities.

Organisers of the WATA triathlon should be commended for going out on a limb and as we hope for the effective growth of Jamaica as a sports tourism destination, I welcome more initiatives of this kind.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

TEN ways I think we can all serve JAMAICA

Disclaimer: This was inspired by a Time Magazine article I read recently...21 ways to serve America.

Social graces are declining in the world, but in developing countries such as Jamaica, the recovery process is much longer. However, we have to START EARLY...

1. SUPPORT LEGISLATION: We should make it compulsory for every Jamaican from 14 years up serve a community group, non for profit organisation or a sporting organisation.This is expansion of our National Youth Service
2. TAKE A TOUR: We should encourage families to take a tour of Jamaica, so we can see how our brothers and sisters exist/survive.
3. JOIN THE LIBRARY (online or the Physical one): This is an encouragement for all of us to read, this is in addition to the school is also a hint to Jamaican writers to write more of our own stories.
4. START YOUNG: Imagine if you wanted to be a great football player, you would start dribbling from as early as eight years old, well since so many of our social graces have declined, get in the game early. Eat out once in a while, visit a neighbour, attend church, go our of town to a sporting event etc
5. KNOW HOW PARLIAMENT WORKS: Know who your political representatives are and what their roles are. In other words, re-enter the CIVIC world.
6. VOLUNTEER: Go to a nursing home, a hospital, a prison facility, a school in your community; offer your service Free of Charge
7. EXERCISE: Walk 20 minutes a day for three days a week. Obesity and Heart related diseases are top in the list of killers of "black" people
8. IGNORE YOUR AGE: Not because you are a little older than some, do from "1" to "8" and stick to it. Retirement should be dynamic
9. TURN YOUR DREAMS INTO REALITY: Pass on the knowledge you have and the world will be a better place. Share, Share, Share
10. PREPARE FOR THE WORST: At all times, expect the worst, but if you are prepared you will be able to handle the challenges.

Let's work for a better JAMAICA.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Keep the Story True

So much has been published and carried about Jamaica since August 15, 2008, that it is almost unbelievable the value of the exposure this small country has gotten during this time.

I heard BBC Journalist on radio saying “Jamaica gets so much bad press that the last few days have just been so much great news. And there are so many angles to tell these stories from.” I think that is an endorsement from the BBC and we should build on that.

I cannot overemphasize how well our 51-member team to the Olympics in Beijing, has kept Jamaica in a positive light and what a momentum it has created, way past the nine-day wonders we have become accustomed you.

I am going out on a limb this time around to say this time around, things will be different. Let us be mindful that while we are getting great press, there is always a way for international media to twist and turn the stories to suit their own needs. For example, I saw a headline recently “From Pauper to Sprint King” now how untrue is that? If my information is right, the Bolts were never paupers, and now they are not. But there is always someone, somewhere who wants to denigrate. I beg us to tell our own story and tell it with pride.

Please print, carry on radio and TV, and produce documentaries, features and even full length movies as part of the legacy of our programme. The MVP story, even with all the current grouses, would still be good material for a feature…truth be told!


Within a few months Jamaica will have a draft sport policy to discuss with all major stakeholders. As a credit to Jamaica, The UNESCO International Roundtable Congress on Sport for Peace and Development was just was hosted in Jamaica over two days and from the discussions to take place, the country will have a document to guide how physical education and sport is managed for economic, political and social development.

As we celebrate though, let us be serious about our commitment in sustaining programmes and activities geared at success at the highest level for sport, but we must be decisive. The policy will help as we will have guidelines by which to operate.

Jamaica’s 60 year history is more than sufficient for us to pay attention to sustaining another strong 60 years and more in sport for this country.

Yes we can! Yes we should!


Hosting a welcome home reception for one of the world’s most popular track and field athlete is like hosting a major sporting event. This means that all the necessary plans must be in place to ensure smooth running.

Protocol must be observed as for this activity you would be dealing with a variety of persons, including National Officials, Family, Officials of the particular sport, officials of the sporting fraternity and the exuberant fans.

As we prepare for a round of celebrations to last over an extended period, let’s plan, rehearse, assimilate for rain or shine and hope for a perfect implementation.

Invitations must be sent out early and the necessary follow up done so seating or placement of people by status be done correctly.

Our athletes deserve it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Major Events and Protocol

So now we are becoming a regular destination for hosting major sporting events and ever so often, we need to be reminded of the rules which should guide us in how protocol is to be observed.
Here are some areas we should pay keen attention to:
-seating plans
- precedence of persons
- invitations
- speeches
- flags

Let's take our National Stadium, for example. The Royal Box can seat 87 persons in permanent seats and an additional 14 can be added. The additional seats are to seat the president of the sporting federation, heads of government and the specially invited guests of the host.

Special care must be made when seating persons who speak a foreign language, space should be made for a translator; and if there are couples involved, it is customary to separate them, unless they are the hosts. These seating arrangements are also relevant for seating at a dinner table.


Precedence of persons includes official titles and how they are to be used appropriately by the public address announcer. A clear example is the governor general. He is to be announced as His Excellency the Most Honourable Professor Sir Kenneth Hall and in the case of the prime minister, the Honourable Bruce Golding.
Invitations should be sent at least 14 days in advance of the event and should bear directions to the venue, parking information, allotment of tickets, number of seats to be occupied and dress code. In addition, the RSVP is to be used so the organisers can know the response to the invitations and if allowed, how many guests will attend.
Long speeches have no place at a major sporting event; however, when mentioning dignitaries, they should be mentioned in descending hierarchical order.

Finally, flags are symbolic of a country's honour. The colours on the flags are significant as there is generally a story. The Jamaican flag has black, green and gold which refer to the people, land and sunshine. When there are two flags, one is to be placed to the left of the audience and the other flag on the right.
This is just one element of event hosting that should be placed as high priority, so I thought I would mention protocol first; however, there is so much more to talk about.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jamaica - Sport Policy Needed NOW

Jamaica has so much to gain from its recent superb performance at the Summer Olympic Games that it should pull out all the stops to complete the Sport Policy to help to guide the country's Sport Development Process. The process should include

improving the quality of life
using sport as part of a multi-faceted approach to solving complex social issues
building and maintaining sport infrastructure
attracting major events to Jamaica for economic benefits
voluntarism and active citizenship
Michael Hall, former SDF Chairman has supported my call in saying that "we should identify and link the elements of sport development and establish a mechanism that will provide the foundation from which Jamaica full sporting potential can be realised."

The policy should also seek to set out guidelines for the reduction of inequities associated with gender, age and social class. The strategy should also address the issue of funding required to maintain the programmes.

The role of the Sport Development Foundation (SDF), Institute of Sport (INSPORT) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) MUST be enhanced. The efforts must also seek to collaborate with the Ministries of Education and Health

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Politics and Sports

Occasional outbursts from respective governments who feel cheated from international conspiracies are sometimes bothered by the interference of politics on sport. As the Games of the 29th Olympiad go on in Beijing, China there were some tense moments as the games were ready to begin.

Today, there may be little that separate sport and politics, because it is all about who wins. However, after the victory, then what? An athlete celebrates and looks to greater challenges ahead, While in politics, after the victory, there is no more challenge until the next race is about to start. In other words, no real preparation goes on.

As we all look at the Olympic Games in China a former resident of China Kathy Xu is quoted as saying “it’s not just about how fast you can run or how far you can jump,” but I think having [China] hosting the Olympics is the exact opposite of what the Olympics claim to promote.”

She went even further by indicating that the International Olympic Committee has turned a blind eye to how the Chinese support governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe. The question is, would a boycott be good at this time? We reflect quickly on the games in Moscow in 1980 where up to 62 countries stayed away; and in 1984 in Los Angeles where there was another boycott.

Where do we cross the line? Are governments ever going to get it? As consumers we ought to question the silence of the sponsors, who pump billions of dollars into the staging of these games. This may be an indication of their support of the oppression people face. Or do they think the support is strictly to the hosting of the games. Is the IOC going to ever say to a country “because you violate certain basic principles of human life, you are not eligible to host.” Can this happen?
Here is just an example of what has happened in three Olympic Games which were boycotted. In 1980 in Moscow the protest was about the Soviet’s invasion fo Afghanistan. In Los Angeles, security concerns were the main reason and only 14 countries stayed away; while in 1988 in Seoul, North Korea, Cuba and Ethiopia boycotted because of South Korea’s refusal to acknowledge North Korea as co-host.
The question is…could Jamaica have boycotted because they thought that China’s support of Zimbabwe was wrong? Especially when we think that this is the year where the best medal prospects exist?
The impact of the games will always be positive and the question we want to ask ourselves will human rights get better or worse after the Olympic Games? There is no doubt that new friends, contact and networking opportunities will be made and explored and the athletes will benefit. As consumers we also have an opportunity to view exciting and competitive events.
100 metres finals
At the time of writing this column, the 100 metres semi final listing for men was out and I was calling and emailing around to pick the top eight. What I was proud of is, there were three Jamaicans in the top 16 men in 100 metres in the world in 2008.
There were five other men from the Caribbean, making this region representing 50 per cent of the field. Could we use that to market the Caribbean as the greatest destination in the world? Yes we can (to borrow a phrase from the Obama campaign).
How will that end? I am sure we would have all known by now

Friday, August 1, 2008

Francis needs to be tamed…

The concept of the MVP Track Club, home of Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Sherone Simpson is a welcome addition to the track and field fraternity in Jamaica. The MVP unit has been responsible for producing home-grown talent and the track and field fraternity is better positioned now more than ever.

For too many years, Jamaican athletes got grooming from primarily the American system but just over a decade ago, the country has been able to recognise the value of having physical and technical infrastructure which enables growth and development for the local talent.

So now are not only able to unearth the talent, we are also able to prepare them on our own for international recognition and continued success. We have also added to the list of opportunities for performances by hosting IAAF sanctioned meets that other international stars look forward to competing in.

While we laud head coach, Stephen Francis for his abilities, we are not in support of him maligning the integrity of a system he learnt from. His recent outbursts have been uncalled for and also baseless. I care not about his personal feelings about the personnel in the JAAA or the JOA; but there are standards which we must uphold.

Calling his colleagues “a bunch of high school coaches who do not know what they are doing” is out of order. Considering his early days in coaching was spent learning at the feet of Glen Mills. Mills has had success under his belt for some three decades, being responsible for athletes like Donald Quarrie, Raymond Stewart, Kim Collins, Carey Johnson, Garfield Campbell and now Usain Bolt. If I were to be bold and I will, while Aleen Bailey was with coach Mills, she has her better days.

Francis must and should show respect for his country and the system, and if he has suggestions for their improvement, put them in perspective and put the recommendations where they belong; not in the media.

Jamaica is now in the spotlight, not Stephen Francis and he must be brought to abide by the rules as set by governing bodies. The rules cannot be different for one set of athletes from the other. This would be a recipe for disaster.

Let us not be distracted from the task at hand and go after the best performance we could muster up for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Deal with the issues after and fix them appropriately.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sport Tourism and Agriculture

Much has been said about the athletic prowess of Jamaicans. I could go down a list of things people have surmised about:
1. the weather
2. the water
3. the hills
…but I am here to propose that there is a direct correlation between the talent and the food…yes the food. I know you are all wondering where I am going with this.

Let’s take a serious look at where SOME of our top performing athletes are from and analyse the agricultural strength of those areas.

Jackie Pusey, Beverley McDonald are all from St. Mary; Pablo McNeill, Veronica Campbell Brown, Michael Green, Usain Bolt are all from Trelawny; we have seen what the Christiana area has produced over the last ten years in the Holmwood camp and we have a few scattered over the island.

St. Mary is the home of the best grown bananas…high in potassium and its importance to the diet is, it helps to reduce the risk of hypertension and kidney diseases. Well, what can I say about Trelawny, home of the greatest tasting yam in the world. Yam can be used to make wine, bun, cake, pudding and punch.

Let me declare that I have no scientific evidence of this correlation, however, what I can tell you is Professor Errol Morrison and Dr. Henry Lowe are working on something and I am sure they are eager to tell the world.

The Benefits

My thoughts may be trivial to some of you…but in light of creative tourism marketing we can make this an attraction. People all over the world, want to be Jamaican. They want to be a Jamaican who can run, play football, sing and dance. If for any reason they think that it is because of the food, they will come here to have the experience.

Like everything else though, it must be packaged. The organisers of the Trelawny Yam Festival may want to have home boy Usain endorse the festival with words like: Hi, I am Usain, Jamaican track and field star. I was born and raised in Trelawny and my diet must include Yam. If you want to run as fast as I can……”

Remember Jimmy Adams and Serge Island Milk? We must find creative ways and means to get more visitors to our island and if we believe our own stories, then others will hear it and believe it too.

Next Steps

If we think there is a method to our talent in sport and there is definitely a connection to be made we should make all the necessary plans to get that research going. I therefore call on the Universities of the West Indies and Technology to get the research going, so maybe in our lifetime we can know the true story.

I know my storytellers are just waiting to start writing and my filmmakers to start filming. There is a story to tell, and we need to tell it ourselves.

For all the promoters of food festivals, when you sit in your next set of planning meetings, invite one of our local scientists…you may never know what can turn up.

I want to hear from you on this one.

P.S. We can now start doing research on cassava

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Special Events for Sport Tourism

Summer is here. It is an Olympic year. It is also the year when so many other major sporting events are on around the world. Some of these events are way too costly for the ordinary person, while some are more affordable. Thanks to television most of us can view even excerpts live and delayed.

At the recent Commonwealth Conference on Sport Tourism, the Director General, Commonwealth Tourism Centre, Malaysia, Abdul Rahman Shaari was quoted as saying “more and more countries are designing special events to attract tourists to their respective countries. The conference which was held in May 2008 is also reporting that the over 50 Commonwealth countries offer an eclectic blend of tourism environments, attractions, histories, interests, expectations and experiences.

Jamaica is part of that group, which has been offering and will continue to offer a unique experience. But as always, more can and should be done to attract greater numbers to the island.

I have mentioned some of the very special events we have throughout the year…the Gibson Relays, Boys and Girls Championships, May Invitational are just some of the calendar events and we need more. You would notice those events are track and field. There needs to a wider variety.

I suggest we create a sporting (special) event around the time we have the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues, so patrons can find something to do during the day. How about a rock climbing (made for TV) competition? How about a Cockpit Country Challenge? The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JHNT) could create a trail with proper signs, so it serves as a competition and also as a history lesson. These events could be packaged and sold to high-profile television networks which have these types of events in their programme schedules.

Even for Reggae Sumfest, we could design an extreme sport contest to appeal to the age-group which will more than likely attend the one-week event. Plus if MTV has an additional reason to be here in Jamaica, then why not? I think we need to seriously explore those possibilities.

The sustainability of the sport tourism product has to be guided by policy and programmes aimed at generating revenue, exposure and job opportunities. The design and implementation elements of the programme have to bear those things in mind.

Special events are not just for the moment, but instead developers of these events have a role in attracting those who
1. travel to play
2. travel to watch
3. travel to learn

Jamaica has so much to offer to all those groups. Yes we can!

Well done JAAA
If you were lucky to be at the National Stadium in Kingston between June 27 and 29, you would have witnessed one of the most exciting national track and field championships anywhere in the world. The JAAA should be commended for a great effort in organising a great event. Now the 52 athletes who have been selected are in the spotlight between August 8 and 24 in Beijing. We all look forward!

An event to witness close to the end of July…the showdown between Tyson Gay (9.68 seconds with a 4.1 m/s wind) versus Asafa Powell (9.74 seconds). Even without Bolt in the mix it is going to be a cracker. If you are close to Crystal Palace, London, you should go.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sport Tourism Events and Branding

Carole Beckford, Contributor

Lights! Camera! Action!
June 27 - 29
National Stadium
"You would not want to miss this."

Is it a new movie? Is it the launch of a new drink? Is it Reggae Sumfest? Is it Portland Jerk Festival? No! It is the national track and field championship, June 27 to 29.

This event will be used to select the Jamaican track and field contingent for the 29th Summer Olympic Games for Beijing, China, August 8-24. This year in particular is shaping up to be one of the most, if not the most, exciting trials in a very long time.

Well, thanks to the usual top-class performances from our athletes since January, we can certainly look forward to close and nail-biting finishes in a number of events. I know you are thinking that the 100 metres for men is the stellar event, and maybe it is, but there are the 100 and 200 metres for women and the 400 metres for women which will be closely competed.

be a part of history

Wherever you are, plan to be a part of history and attend the meet for three days of 'world beaters on track'.

So the question here then is, do these major events have a brand image? Sure they do. Where else in the world can you find three or more athletes who are in the top ten in the world for 100, 200 metres (men and women) and 100 metres hurdles (women)? Nowhere else - except in Jamaica. And we should brand it accordingly. 'World beaters compete for spot on Olympic team' - a possible theme for the trials.


We have to look at it from the spectators' perspectives at all times and what the expectations are likely to be and there are three questions we should try to answer:

1. What are the attributes of the event?

2. What are the benefits of the event?

3. What are the attitudes toward the event?

A lot of these questions can be answered by the media exposure, word of mouth (that is still the best tool for promotion these days); and from all the other experiences of great track meets we have hosted in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association and its officials have to take credit for the fact that they have been hosts to well-run events for a long time and the national trials 2008 will be no different. So let's get this show on the road.

I have deliberately stayed away from calling names of these athletes and I know the sport columnists/writers will do enough of that. Needless to say, Jamaica has a plethora of athletes who can perform creditably in a number of events and they should be encouraged to 'keep on track'.

PS: Whether we get insane (Usain) or we go faster (Asafa), June 27-29 will be as good a time as ever to be in Jamaica. Book your tickets early! And remember, we have some of the finest restaurants in Kingston.

published: Hospitality Jamaica, Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blackwell has his own rum

Entertainment guru, Chris Blackwell, has launched his own line of rum...Black(well) Gold. Blackwell is currently on his Jamaica tour, having done Kingston and Montego Bay already.

In Kingston, the launch was at Terra Nova and in Montego Bay at the Pavillion at Half Moon.

Blackwell will take the tour to other major cities across the world.

Reggae and rum...what a great combination

Cecile Levee and Blackwell sharing a joke (Photo 1)

Blackwell sharing with Lennox Lewis and his partners from J. Wray & Nephew Photo 2)

Beyond the Asafa-Bolt hype

Are the JAAA, JTB cashing-in at National Trials?
BY ANDREW HANCEL Observer staff reporter
Sunday, June 15, 2008

When Usain Bolt broke Asafa Powell's world record recently, many avenues open. Bolt and Powell are now expected to meet over the distance at the Jamaica Olympic Trials (June 27-29) in a contest that has already triggered massive interest around the globe.

Established international media entities such has BBC, ESPN, FoxSports and NBC and a host of other broadcasting agencies from as far as Japan, Italy and L'Equipe of France, have all indicated their desire to give coverage to this stellar event.

But beyond the hype and drama that is about to unfold at the National Stadium in Kingston, the issue of how the nation can capitalise on the expected influx of revenue gathers momentum.

At a glance the possibilities are endless. By virtue of Jamaica being a great tourist destination, coupled with its world acclaimed reggae music, the little Caribbean island stands to benefit immensely - if shrewdly and prudently executed - from these Olympic Trials.

From the look of things, however, the governing body for the sport, the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA), appears to have already dropped the baton.

Carole Beckford, author of the book, Keeping Jamaica's Sport on Track, indicate that another opportunity to market Jamaica via sport could go abegging.

"One of the things that we fail to do effectively is to mix sports with entertainment, because that is a package all to its self," Beckford told Sunday Observer in a recent interview.

"We've been in the Olympics for 60 years, so it's time to re-engage our youngsters and our people into Jamaica's history of... the Olympics games," she pointed.

Meanwhile, Jamaica gained invaluable experience in the hosting of major events from the 2002 World Junior Championships and the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Knowing what it takes to stage a world event, the onus is now on the key players, including the government, to bring added value to this upcoming event - arguably is the most highly anticipated pre-Olympics meet heading into the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China.
According to the website, Sport Tourism is a multi-billion dollar business and one of the fastest growing of the US$4.5 trillion global travel and tourism industry.

But delving into this is relatively virgin territory in the Jamaican context and for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), notes Beckford.

"It's (for) the Jamaica Tourist Board to now see the National Trials as a major event and package it properly so that it will engage and attract people to come into the country... associate it with the entertainment package," said Beckford.

Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, told the Sunday Observer that "Sport Tourism will become the centre-piece of the tourism new marketing approach to drive greater visitor arrivals into the country".
But it still remains unclear whether the JTB is on board for the most important weekend in June.

When contacted, lead organiser of the Jamaica Trials, Ludlow Watts, had little say.

"We're in our planning stage now and I don't want to make a lot of comment... but... a lot of interests is being generated. All the various components are being processed right now... and a lot of interest is being shown in the championships. We're actually planning for a high-quality meet," Watts stated.

"We expect it to be high quality based on the performance of the athletes and we in turn want... to provide a good structure and ensure that we have a good Championship for the benefit of the athletes and the spectators..."

It is yet to be seen, however, to what degree Jamaica reaps benefits from parading on local soil the two fastest human beings that have ever lived.

Taken from the Jamaica Observer

Friday, May 30, 2008


I want to go to South Africa, somewhere between June 11 and July 10, 2010, so I can have lots to tell my friends about the wonderful world of football. Fans from all across the world will gather in the major cities in that country for 'The Greatest Show on Earth'. These fans can be considered sport tourists, as they travel to participate in or watch a sport.

Think about a major sporting event being held in Jamaica and a tourist who comes here, writes back to a friend to relate the wonderful time in Jamaica for the typical five/six days for an average stay.

Dear Louise:

Got in on Thursday for a Saturday event, so I could have a whole day to look around and soak up the IRIE Jamaican feeling.

Day 1

I landed in Montego Bay at the Sangster International Airport in what seemed to have had recent renovations. I spotted a picture of the great fast bowler, Courtney Walsh, as I walked through the halls. I got my duffle bag pretty quickly as the airport is fully equipped with staff. A JUTA bus picked me up and took me to my hotel. I asked the driver to roll down the window so I could smell and feel the wonderful Jamaican breeze - magnificent. First time in this place, WOW!

Day 2

Off to Negril where the road race is scheduled to be. My driver is early, said it would take about 45 minutes to get to my first destination. Nice, hot day, but 'sweet' breeze. Driver, whose name was Tom, said, "You feel good this early in the morning!" I gave in. It was the most refreshing drink I have had in a while.

Cars, trucks and buses whisked by us, but Tom takes his time, while trying to give me a guided tour. His accent is interesting, not to say the least. We reached Negril. Lots of action, mopeds, roller skaters, taxis, buses, and the town was hopping.

I got to the registration area to confirm that I was in the race and picked up my passes.

The race was on the next day at 5 a.m., so I didn't plan to walk around much - had to rest the legs. I told Tom to walk with me through the town for a while. So we parked and walk.

Day 3

I am up at 3 a.m., excited about competing in the Reggae Marathon for the first time. Tom is prompt and we leave at 3:30. I report to the starter by 4:30 and I am ready.

I placed 50th in my category, and was pleased; even more pleased that I could finally have a Red Stripe.

Day 4

Days three and four slipped into each other as we partied all night, grooving to the sounds of sweet Jamaican music, reggae, dancehall and some good old '70s hits.

Day 5

Back to Michigan I must go. Tom bid me goodbye, "Mek sure you buy a bottle of Appleton rum on your way out." I did. And I tried some patties, too. I had a great time!

How many times are these stories told and to how many people? Let's plan for more major sporting events in Jamaica so the stories can be told.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thinking outside the box: Sport Tourism

Sport Tourism and its ability to attract visitors to the island should not be limited to traditional events, like golf, tennis, polo or even beach volleyball; it can instead look at the specific features of Jamaica and create events which can be ‘culturally inspired’.

We can also take traditional competitions like a triathlon and tweak it so the country can benefit from visitors and residents getting the opportunity to see more of Jamaica, while enjoying the offerings of cuisine and various entertainment packages.

Jake’s Resort, recently completed Triathlon is a great example of a sport tourism product which can attract a new type of sport tourist and the island is able to benefit tremendously from media exposure at the same time.

The very-exciting 500 metres swim, 25 kilometer bike ride and the seven kilometer run along Jamaica’s south coast is a physical challenge; however for the spectators it is an opportunity to watch and cheer, while enjoying the tropical weather in Jamaica, even if it rains. Good job Jake’s and I look forward to an annual event. Let’s get major sports network on board to broadcast this so we can have bigger and better events.


Years ago, Jamaica was host of the Snapple Superstars where American superstars participated in swimming, weightlifting, kayaking, golf, basketball shoot-out, cycling, half mile run and a 100-metre dash. Jamaica is not short on stars and I am sure we could have our own “Superstars” event.

Imagine for a moment Asafa Powell, Ricardo Gardener, Elaine Davis, Winston Griffiths, Oberon Pitterson, Brigitte Foster Hylton, Kali McCarthy, Simone Forbes, Paul Lalor and more competing in such an event. Outside of the media frenzy it would create, it would be a ‘made for TV event’.

It is also an additional opportunity for spectators and fans to get to see another side of some of their favourite people; while it gives the superstar an opportunity to relate to their peers in other sporting areas. Even in the preparation/training for the challenging event, there would be an opportunity for interaction.

I challenge the Western Hotels Association to re-organise this event, under the Jamaican banner for next April/May, a full year to plan, so we can host this fabulous event. I know it can be a success. If this comes on the calendar every two years then we have something to look forward to. We could throw in one international sport star as special guest, to create international appeal.

The US Model featured Jason Sehorn (New York Giants); Tim Raines (New York Yankees), Erik Williams (Dallas Cowboys) and Michael Westbrook (Washington Redskins). It was aired on ABC and a number of international journalists came. Win win for all.

LIGHTNING “BOLT” was in true form on Saturday, May 3, and if you were not there to see it live and living colour, well there are a number of places you can see the race. The 21-year old lit up the track with a spectacular 9:76 seconds in his third major competitive 100 metres. I also saw the 10:03 a few months ago, so I knew he had it in him. FYI – by Sunday, May 4 up to 7:00 p.m. over 10,000 hits were on for just that race. Phenomenal! Good luck in Beijing!

Polo – another option for sport in Jamaica. Jamaica recently hosted the 19th ICWI international ladies tournament with players from Singapore, Argentina, Britain and Zimbabwe and Lesley-Ann Masterton Fong Yee was one of the most valuable players. She also performed creditably in the NCB Tournament on Sunday, May 4. Non traditional game with a specific market appeal…why not?

Jamaica has the goods, look at the diversity. Let’s deliver.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Get a Professional Certificate in Sport Management

The GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, Spanish Town, Jamaica, is offering a course in Sport Management to begin Wednesday, June 4, 2008 in Kingston. The 27-year old teacher training institution, which currently offers courses for certificate, diploma and degree students for teacher training is adding the professional certificate course to diversify its offerings as it steps up its promotion for the 2008 to 2009 school year.

The course is comprehensive 30 hours programme which will look at functional areas of sport management, hisotrical, cultural features of sport management and how to identify and manage the current trends in sport management.

Principal of the College, Yvonne Kong, is pleased that the college is meeting the demands of the market. She also noted that the institution is prepared to ensure that the sporting sector gets all the support it needs to maintain and enhance its cuurent status. "Jamaica has to much of a rich history and sport and continues to do well, not to have the necessary support in place. GC Foster can assist in meeting that need."

The Principal added that the course is expected to be offered in the Masters' Programme which will be offered in the near future.

Applications are now being accepted at the College by calling 748 3227/984 2328
The course is being offered for J$35,000 + a registration/processing fee of $1,000

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bolt sizzles in 100 metres dash

Usain Bolt posted a world leading time of 9.76sec - second fastest time in history - to win the 100m Saturday at the Jamaica International Invitation athletics meet, held at the National Stadium in Kingston (May 3)

Jamaica's Bolt, following two false starts, won ahead of USA's Darvis Patton and Antiguan, Daniel Bailey, who were second and third respectively on 10:08 and 10.12 seconds.

American Wallace Spearmom faded into fifth place.
World record holder, Asafa Powell did not compete. He is out due to injury.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sports tourism is good for the Caribbean

Bevan Springer
Friday, May 02, 2008

While the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup may have helped economic expansion, boosted infrastructure investment and furthered functional cooperation across the region, many in the tourism circles did not reap the kind of dividends they expected from the sporting spectacle because of the unexpected early defeat and exit of major cricketing nations such as India and Pakistan and the absence of traditional winter visitors, many of whom who chose to stay away from the Caribbean during the Cup's staging.

Nevertheless, the Caribbean has been left with an awesome opportunity to market state-of-the-art sporting facilities to a booming international sports tourism community during the cricket season and beyond if we are to capitalise on the millions of dollars that have been invested in them.
Carole Beckford, writing in the Jamaica press, said international bodies have long realized the value of sport to tourism and the money it can take into developing countries.

"Jamaica should therefore decide to host major sporting events in the future only on the following bases: To ensure the continuing economic and lifestyle values for local communities. The importance of building both quality and sustainability standards to meet all patrons' expectations and to make use of current facilities and infrastructure.

"The intense global media and Internet exposure that can affect a country's tourism competitiveness, its visitor appeal and its entire international image. (And) the increasing public interest and the specific interest around travel to major sporting events. When we are able to achieve all four of the objectives listed above then we are good to go."

According to St Lucian author Peter Adrien, "Sport Tourism calls for a paradigm shift in our conception and development of sports in the Caribbean. And this new vision must become part and parcel of our personal, national and regional development vision.

"Policy-makers must clearly define the role of recreational and commercial sports in the development strategy. The first is an imperative, and forms an integral part of the program for building a harmonious and productive society, and lays the foundation for the successful growth of the political and economic systems, while the second is selective and targeted towards foreign exchange earning."

The St Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) and more recently the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) have made some major inroads into tapping into the expatriate markets of cricketing playing nations living in North America by wooing them to come to the Caribbean. Before the Cricket World Cup last year, the SLTB, along with Cricket World Cup St Lucia Inc, hit the road to tap West Indians, Kenyans and New Zealanders living in North America to entice them to visit the Caribbean for cricket.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Major Events and Protocol

April 2, 2008

So now we are becoming a regular destination for hosting major sporting events and ever so often we need to be reminded of the rules which should guide us in how protocol is to be observed.

Here are some areas we should pay keen attention to:
- seating plans
- precedence of persons
- invitations
- speeches
- flags

Let’s take our national stadium for example. The Royal Box can seat 87 persons in permanent seats and an additional 14 can be added. The additional seats are to seat the President of the Sporting Federation, heads of government and the specially invited guest of the host.

Special care must be made when seating persons who speak a foreign language, space should be made for a translator; and if there are couples involved, it is customary to separate them, unless they are the hosts. These seating arrangements are also relevant for seating at a dinner table.

Precedence of persons includes official titles and how they are to be used appropriately by the public address announcer. A clear example is the Governor General. He is to be announced as His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall and in the case of the Prime Minister, the Honourable Bruce Golding.

Invitations should be sent at least 14 days in advance of the event and should bear directions to the venue, parking information, allotment of tickets, number of seats to be occupied and dress code. In addition the RSVP is to be used so the organizers can know the response to the invitations and if allowed, how many guests will attend.

Long speeches have no place at a major sporting event; however when mentioning dignitaries they should be mentioned in hierarchical and descending order.

Finally, flags are symbolic of a country’s honour. The colours on the flags are significant as there is generally a story. The Jamaican flag has black, green and gold which refer to the people, land and sunshine. When there are two flags it is to be placed to the left of the audience and the other flag on the right.

This is just one element of event hosting that should be placed as high priority, so I thought I would mention protocol first; however there is so much more to talk about.

I could not complete this week without congratulating the organizers of Boys and Girls Championships 2008 for the well organised four days of spectacular management of an event. It is not hard, so we do not always have to seem like we are starting over each time we host a major event.

I ask that the list of volunteers be looked at seriously and some training and development should be coordinated for them to be kept aware of events hosting in addition to their specific responsibilities at these events. Next time I will look more closely at planning as a major tool for hosting an event.

Send feedback to:

Note: What was the JFF thinking? On Wednesday, March 26 patrons were pushed and shoved at the main entrance to the Independence Park Complex, Arthur Wint Drive, because somehow the Jamaica Football Federation forgot to place barriers to be used as walkways. I ask that they return to Plan A.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beyond the Sun, Sea and Sand...Sport

It’s going to be great in 2008…isn’t that what we all said this year? Well let’s get to work.

We have flogged the sun, sea and sand pitch of selling Jamaica and sooner than later the competition will stop us right in our track, pun intended. How then will we sell Jamaica as a sport tourist destination?

It is well known across the world that we produce some of the best athletes the world has ever seen. So it must be something in the water we drink or the food we eat or just the fresh air we breathe. Let us package that and sell it.

How many people we could convince to walk the hills of Cold Spring, Hanover, to see where Merlene Ottey grew up? How many young English cricketers can we invite to Boys Town, Kingston to see where the great Collie Smith played?

What should we do to convince some young bright male athlete that if they visit Pleasant Valley, Clarendon where the late great Herb McKenley grew up, they could be motivated to perform excellently. They could probably even visit the Calabar facility on Red Hills Road, where the man spent a lot of time coaching and motivating young men to excel.

I am suggesting we add that dimension to our tourism product. Our sporting legacy can be worth much more if we coordinate our efforts. It could also be a source of information for Jamaican children here in schools. I bet there are a lot of us who could do with a little refresher.

As we prepare for the Summer Olympics this year, what better time than the present?

Puerto Rico is changing their strategy to attract visitors under a programme called Puerto Rico, explore beyond the shore. It is a publicity campaign which is showing the adventurous side of the country.

It is reported that the 2007 golf open in the UK, brought in 14 million pounds into the economy. Not only does golf attract high rollers; but the value of the media exposure is worth millions and the images of the country are broadcast far and wide.

So let us look at the adventure tours, the heritage facilities and any other relevant sporting activity we can design to attract visitors to our island.
I will ask Robert Lalah to help me find some places worthy of note for sport tourists. I see this as an idea for young entrepreneurs to talk to the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) and put the ideas into action.

I am also recommending that a Tourism Action Club in one of our many schools take on as a project, The Sport Tourism Spots in Jamaica. Consider places where one can swim, cycle, climb, crawl, slide or even jump, outside of a typical resort area, already set up.

I challenge that club in any school in Jamaica.

CHAMPS: Congratulations to the winners of the Boys and Girls Championships. Penn Relays should be a sizzling affair.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sport facility strategy - one is needed NOW

The selection of any city or country to host a major sporting event is a long and sometimes complicated process. Jamaica has been a beneficiary of hosting major events for over 40 years, dating back to the Commonwealth Games of 1966.

There have been tremendous benefits to the country. However, the argument now is how we can ensure the sustained use of these facilities for economic earnings and the attraction of more sport tourists.

Some national sporting groups have found it difficult to use some of the premier facilities due to high costs, but a plan has to be put in place to ensure that the facilities' costs are covered, plus the earning of a profit.

I have, in recent times, called for an updated list of facilities in the island with its capacity analysis, that is, the number of amenities, fields and stadiums, and its infrastructure, that is, road (transportation) and works.

In a Major Event Attraction Programme study, conducted by Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI/JAMPRO), the facilities are placed in categories by class with capacities of over 5,000, 2,500 and 1,000 spectators. The study also shows the event potential; whether or not the venue is internationally sanctioned for major conventions, concerts or conferences.

The study highlights 24 facilities to be in classes one to four; being able to host from a high of over 28,000 to a low of 1,000 spectators.

Let us take Sabina Park, for example. It is the first cricket ground to record a triple century - England vs. West Indies in 1930; or the 365 not out by Gary Sobers, plus the remarkable knocks by the indomitable Lawrence Rowe in 1972 (214 and 100 not out on his debut against New Zealand). The rest of the world needs to know that and people should rush to Sabina Park and pay to relive those memories.

Sabina Park was also a venue for track and field championships and can still hold a 400 metres track. The picturesque park recently underwent a major renovation in time for Cricket World Cup 2007. What's next?

The strategy

I know we are afraid of task forces, but I am recommending one to look at the study of the Major Event Attraction Programme and see how Jamaica can benefit from this programme. I know the team will have its experts from the events management portfolio (Jamaica Tourist Board, JTI, Institute of Sport, Independence Park Limited, Sport Development Foundation, Jamaica Olympic Association, etc), but I am suggesting additional personnel from the Jamaica National Heritage Trust and the Tourism Product Development Company to be added to look seriously at marketing the facilities for sustained use.

Seating at Venues for major events

As the World Cup football qualifiers approach, along with international friendly games and major track and field championships, can we have a seating layout of the grandstand at all major ticket venues? This will assist patrons in knowing where they will be seated and how many seats are available in the specific section of choice.

I would hate to have to 'tussle' with anyone who is not sitting in the assigned seat. Let's fix that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tennis - a catalyst for sport tourism

If you have not been to the Eric Bell Centre for Tennis in Kingston recently, then you should. I guarantee you will have a new view of tennis and its ability to attract more of us to the sport and possibly more tourists to use available facilities in Jamaica.

The centre is just off Marescaux Road, in Cross Roads, by the L.P. Azar building.

Tennis Jamaica has had a re-branding exercise. They were formerly known as the Jamaica Lawn Tennis Association. Christine and Phillip Gore and their administrative team now run the new establishment.

Major renovation took place in June 2006 and they have since hosted the Davis Cup in April 2007, which, according to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), "was a well run tournament". So, with the ITF certification, they have the green light to host more international tournaments, with minor changes.

With the growth of tennis as a sport globally and more tourists travelling for sport purposes, tennis in Jamaica has a wonderful window of opportunity to add to the list of sporting attractions stock in Jamaica and to the capital city, Kingston.

There are further plans for a tennis academy. There is a hunt on for financial partnership to make this venture a success.

While tennis is a minor sport by Jamaica's definition, it has the potential to create impact that can and would be a vital contri-butor to the development of the sport tourism product. The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) should jump on board to 'get in the game' and promote tennis and its facilities as just one more thing this 'paradise' has to offer.

The Carib and Sport Tourism

The Caribbean has been officially declared the 'cultural centre' of the world; with that in mind, the tourism experts in the region should create policy which aim's at using our cultural products - sport, music, art and entertainment - to drive activity for stay-over visitors. Studies by the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation have indicated that visitor arrivals go up when there is a bundle of activities for special times of the year.

We have, as a region, been able to promote and market the respective music festivals. I know there is a greater role for sport to play. Certainly, at the next tourism heads of state/practitioners meeting, the potential of sport tourism should be discussed as an agenda item in a more serious way. I know it has been discussed, but I want more in-depth plans to be put in place with implementation to take place. This will, therefore, call for collaboration among the CARICOM member states; and for countries to put forward their own brand.

St. Kitts author, Peter Adrien, made a presentation to a Caribbean Media Summit in 2006. In a report he stated that "Sport Tourism" calls for a paradigm shift in our conception and deve-lopment of sport in the Caribbean. And this new vision must become part and parcel of our personal, national and regional development vision.

Policy-makers must clearly define the role of recreational and commercial sports in the development strategy. The first is an imperative and forms an integral part of the programme for building a harmonious and productive society, and lays the foundation for the successful growth of the political and economic systems, while the second is selective and targeted towards foreign-exchange earning.