Thursday, December 10, 2009

Outlook for Sport Tourism for 2010

Come 2010, lots of exciting major sporting events will take place around the world, focusing on World Cup Football, scheduled for South Africa. Jamaica’s Reggae Boys will not be participating, but Jamaica will be involved through its administrators of football, Captain Horace Burrell and Horace Reid.

What then can Jamaica do to maintain its position in the marketplace as a sport tourism destination? Lots of great prospects are available and so 2010 should be a year when Jamaica hosts at least two major sporting events to attract large quantities of sport tourists.

Coming off the heels of the performances of the track and field athletes in Berlin in August 2009, the essence of Jamaica is once again the talk of the world and there is so much to be done to keep the island’s name in the market place.

The Inter Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) will celebrate 100 years of the hosting of the greatest high school championship anywhere in the world, so come March 24 to 27 Kingston will be buzzing with excitement. There are already queries being made about hotel rooms and places to go during that time.

The week of March 21 to 28 should therefore be a designated week of funs and activities in Kingston with

- top sport media
- top food network media
- media which focuses on teens
- media which focuses on social lifestyle

Boys and Girls Champs present all that and more and we have exactly three months to plan all these activities. This is another opportunity for the Jamaica Tourist Board and ISSA to partner and make Kingston the place to be March 21 – 28, 2010.

What this means therefore is the restaurants, theatres, night clubs should coordinate as much as possible to handle the audience we will have for Kingston during that time.


World and Olympic record holder, Usain Bolt, played host to thousands of people at the Richmond Estate, St. Ann…Turnkey Production, Headline Entertainment and the UB Management team combined with sponsors to put on the first show of this kind. Highlighting the event was the combination of athletes and entertainers all of whom want to come back to Jamaica. Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic medallist, Richard Thompson says “Jamaica has captured my heart, and I will definitely come back.” The USA star, Wallace Spearmon, fitted in all to well and he has promised to return soon.

On the entertainment side, Ludacris pay respect to Bolt and vows to do a charity event in Kingston at a time to be arranged and there are others on stand by to offer services. Jamaica is alive and well and we MUST make good use of these opportunities.

The Jamaica Tourist Board now has its hands full in determining a strategic approach to capture the imagination of its potential visitors by combining sport, music and the destination to add the diversity to the tourism product, the country so richly deserves.


Plans are afoot for the 2010 renewal, 10th anniversary, after the very successful running on December 5. Kudos go out to Alfred Francis and his team.

Coming attraction: The strong man may be coming to Jamaica sooner than you think.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sport Tourism through Schools

Jamaica’s Sport Tourism product could get a boost in 2010, when the world’s largest organisers of sport tours, Edwin Doran Sports Travel (EDST), take its first tour here. Members of the team recently visited Jamaica to look at the opportunities and there is optimism that the deal will be sealed soon.

One of the advantages of that kind of relationship is, Jamaica’s school sport system is a cultural phenomenon and at anytime a competitive team in any sport can be found to participate in a series of tournaments. That should boost the efforts of Physical Education teachers in the school system to better prepare their students in imparting the knowledge and information geared at competing at this level.

The tours are generally arranged around the Easter period and include cricket, football, netball, hockey, rugby and lacrosse. The tour has been to the Caribbean region, but has been in the Eastern Caribbean, but shows intention of heading into different areas of the region...with Jamaica in mind.

Apart from the school tours, there are additional opportunities for creation of High Performance Centres in the respective sporting disciplines which aim to provide intense training and preparation for top-level competition even beyond the school years.

Jamaica should welcome this opportunity and the Jamaica Tourist Board’s involvement so far suggests that Sport Tourism is being seriously considered as a way to add diversity to the current tourism product.

The head masters of schools along with representatives of EDST toured the island and looked at locations where the sports could be accommodated. They also met with representatives of the sporting organisations who could assist in the planning and coordination of these tours and tournaments. Netball, cricket, track and field were well represented, well certainly at the meeting in Kingston. It will be a welcome opportunity for school sports in Jamaica and in the end sport tourism.
Teams Conference in New Orleans
Jamaica had representation at the recently concluded Teams Conference in New Orleans where the top sports people gathered. They came from marketing companies, hotel chains, teams and at least 20 sporting franchises across the US. Marsha Lawrence, Brand Warriors, Technology Innovation Centre, was the sole Jamaican company represented at the event. Lawrence in an interview said she has “renewed respect for Sports Marketers and great enthusiasm for all the possibilities that exist for Jamaica.”
Lawrence also spoke with an ESPN senior executive who suggested that Jamaica could be a destination for a version of the renowned Strong Man competition. That would be something new and different.
A famous quote which emerged from the Teams Conference is by Publisher of Sports Travel Magazine, Timothy Schneider... “by concentrating our attention in the places where difficulty can be replaced by opportunity, the sport-event industry has the chance to help lead the recovery of the travel industry and play an even bigger role as an economic- development engine for communities large and small.”
News: Stop in Montego Bay for the Rose Hall Triathlon on Saturday, October 31. Head over to Negril for the Reggae Marathon on Saturday, December 5.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boosting Opportunities for Sport Tourism

Networking is an important tool to be used in any profession to enhance the chances of greater linkages. That too is true of the sport industry. So while Jamaica has the athletes, venues and the officials to coordinate major sporting events; it is also important to attend major shows across the world to network for greater opportunities.
One such opportunity will be happening in New Orleans this week (October 13 to 17) where the world’s largest gathering of sport event organisers will be. The Teams 2009 Conference and Expo is an event which attracts 38 top sponsorship organisations – hotel chains, convention centres, and key suppliers to the sport industry.
The world has continued to marvel at the economic value of an organised sport industry and a conference of this nature presents a great opportunity for developing countries like Jamaica to be with the movers and shakers in this industry.
The format of the five day event will include a conference programme with leading experts who share the latest inside information. There is a massive trade show with more than 300 sports-event suppliers and destinations that provides new contacts and ideas. There are also personal appointment sessions that allows quality time with event organizers and industry leaders and finally the networking sessions and social functions that help build valuable relationships for today and tomorrow.
Brand Warriors, of the Technology Innovation Centre, University of Technology will be in attendance for Jamaica and will bring back valuable experience to the country which should be managed for effectiveness.
There are a number of conferences to come on stream in 2010 and Jamaica as Sport Tourism destination; also as a place where there are facilities for further training in Sport and Physical Education should capitalise on some of these opportunities as the country aims to earn from the billion dollar industry.
There is the 2010 Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference scheduled for March in Washington. In Vienna in July, there is a Sport Engineering Association Conference where the focus is on technology and innovation for sport and science. There are a number of opportunities and if Jamaica wants to be successful in other aspects of the industry, it has to reach out of the box, if even for networking opportunities initially.

Major Events
In the tourist capital, Montego Bay on October 31, the second running of the WATA Rose Hall Triathlon will be on, which will feature some of the world’s top triathletes. The event, only in its second year, has managed to attract Olympic quality athletes among a list of other keen competitors. An added attraction is the triathlon for children, scheduled for November 1 on the same course. For more go to
Later this year the Reggae Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, December 5 in Negril, then later that evening, a 9.58 SuperParty is on for the Richmond Estate, St. Ann to be hosted by Usain Bolt.
The plan for the restructuring of the Trelawny Sport Complex is welcome as the location is ideal for hosting major sporting and entertainment events.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sport and the Media

Since sport is such an important aspect of the Jamaican psyche, the way media carries stories form a fundamental expression by the people of Jamaica internally (whether home/abroad); and is implicit on how we are viewed by the rest of the world.

The efforts of Jamaica’s sportsmen and women, have for a long time, been the pinnacle of the success stories, not without the usual expected controversies. What is key is the value the media has placed in always reporting on sporting events which are hosted in Jamaica or where there are Jamaicans participating.

In 1948, Jamaica earned one gold and two silver medals and was ranked 20th in the medal standings. The late Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint were the only two medallists. That news spread around the world like wild fire at the time. However, another news item emerged with the mishap in the 4 X 400 metres where Jamaica did not complete the event. Four years later, the news was, Jamaica earns two gold and three silver and ranked 13th in the medal standings. One of the gold medals was in a record time and in an event where Jamaica failed to finish in the London Games in 1948.

The record in the Olympics has been spectacular and in the media’s eyes, Jamaica has achieved a lot. This is what is reported.

However, the media is also the first to report the controversies, scandals and any other item of news they may deem important enough to catch the eyes of the public. What then is Jamaica’s role in shaping, determining or even guiding what media reports?

In achieving independence since 1962, lots of things changed for Jamaica. The economy grew, people became more literate, technology became available, media also grew, so it shaped the way people consumed information and Jamaicans at home and abroad has far more ways and means to bring the information to them.

The role then of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and its affiliate federations must now put a number of programmes in place for its athletes and administrators to understand the implications of good and ‘bad’ press. Public Education programmes must be the order of the day complimented by workshops and seminars. Literature has to be made available to all concerned to ensure that there is a consistent delivery of standard information, making it plain that the measurement is not different based on where you are from, but the same no matter what.

Athletes have to be prepared to cope with press who will bombard them with questions they may not have thought about, but be made to understand that being in the public requires specific work in handling media.

Some of the media presence Jamaica gets across the world could not be paid for in any media campaign. So while we gain on one side, we should always aim to be proactive about maintaining a positive image. When negative stories emerge, then we should be keen on managing the damage which may be done.

Come August 15 to 23, all track and field fans, existing and new, will have their eyes focused on Jamaica. I ask that we be prepared.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Call for Ministry of Education to designate Active Schools

As a measure to support the call for a more strategic National Policy on Physical Education and Sport, I am calling on the Ministry of Education to designate Active Schools in the six regions as a way to monitor the role of Physical Education in schools.

For the next three to five years, starting September 2009, 12 schools should be monitored to ensure that the children who are to be exposed would be far more aware of the role of PE as a tool for physical, mental and social development.

Active Schools are defined as schools that provide students with sufficient opportunities to get active to the extent that it makes a positive contribution to their health.

The aim of Active Schools is to give children the tools, motivation and opportunities to be more active throughout school years into adulthood.

The suggestion therefore is to select two schools in each of the six regions at the Primary & Junior High and Secondary levels to be subject to the following:

- schools should have male and female PE teachers
- schools should have proper facilities to offer PE
- have out of school hours learning programme for adults in surrounding communities
- develop a wider network at the regional and national levels (health, education, transportation sectors)

Key outcomes will focus on:

- increased participation from boys and girls
- increased participation from the community
- increased participation from people with learning disabilities

The role of PE in schools has been understated and the recommendations above are just a way of ensuring that the subject is taken much more seriously than it is now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

World's fastest man has website -

Usain Bolt has added a new and exciting dimension to his career, this time it is his website. Log on to

The website features highlights of his historic performances at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China where Bolt returned with three world records in the 100 and 200 metres and the 4 X 100 metres relay team.

In a message from Bolt, he says “this is just another exciting way to communicate to my fans, all around the world. Track and field is a very exciting sport that I love dearly and I am proud to be able to share my experiences with you.”

The website also highlights other aspects of Bolt’s life in track and field, showcasing some of his exploits since his rise to international stardom in 2002 at the junior level; while focusing some attention of his professional life with a peek into his community activities and general lifestyle.

With just under a month to before the World Track and Field Championship in Berlin, Germany, Bolt is hoping to be able to keep in touch with his many supporters across the world.

You may also follow Usain Bolt on

The website is expected to showcase a number of exciting interactive features including a fan club and shop. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Defending champions St. George’s College will meet Kingston College in the 45th staging of the Roper Cup, the longest-running football battle between two high schools on August 29. The Roper Cup football festival will see five matches played among age group footballers from both schools at the National Stadium East field.
The action is set to begin at 9 a.m., with the Under 14 teams of both schools meeting, followed by the 10:30 match involving the Under 16 teams.

The aggregate scores from both matches will determine the overall winner of the George Thompson Trophy, played in honour of the late former KC and Jamaica footballer and coach.

Colombian-born Thompson is KC’s most successful coach and was the first local coach to lead a Jamaica team to victory over Mexico in an Olympic qualifier at the National Stadium in 1972.
Jamaica won 1-0 courtesy of a goal by Leonard “Chicken” Mason.

The Under 35 teams of both schools will then meet at noon for the first leg of the Roper Cup decider, which will be split by the match-up for the Pancho Rankine Cup, to be decided by the players aged 35 and over at 2 o’clock.

The mouth-watering final match between last year’s Manning Cup and Olivier Shield winners St. George’s and the Manning Cup quarter-finalists KC in the showdown of present boys at 4 o’clock will close out the day’s activities.
St George’s won the Roper Cup 3-2 on aggregate in last year’s renewal, following a 2-1 win by the present boys and a 1-1 draw in the Under 35 match.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Model for Sport Tourism

From the athletes who travel to participate in sporting activities to the fans who travel to observe, that is the real definition of a sport tourist.

And where will they be this summer? As I mentioned in my last contribution, 'Diary of a sport tourist', there are so many sporting events to observe this summer, but what are the other attractions which could really force me to make a decision to go to any destination apart from sport? What really does sweeten the pie?

Take Jamaica, for instance. Up to September, there are a number of events which could be of interest in the areas of football (soccer), basketball, cricket, netball, volleyball, polo, horse racing, golf, just to name a few. But what are the other factors why I would come to Jamaica to watch these events?

Exponential growth

What we should first acknowledge is that the ability to understand the model of sport has changed and it is not just the feel-good factor of when a team of choice wins or one of our athletes has done well. It is a situation where there is a significant amount of money which can be had from the associations with media, merchandisers and tour operators. The sport tourism industry has grown exponentially and has attracted, since 2007, a sport tourism search engine, which was set up in 2007.

At the click of a mouse

What this website/operation aims to achieve is to be the largest database for sports events in the world. In taking a tour of the website, I was able to look at prices for tickets, seating locations, directions to venues, hotels and flights. These are accompanied with a map which outlines other attractions close by, including restaurants, nightclubs, etc.

Imagine a golf tournament is at Cinnamon Hill, which would be the 'star' location, then the map would entail the hotels, restaurants and other attractions close by. Or if there is a track and field meet in Kingston, the visitors should be able to purchase tickets online and see the layout so they know where they want to sit and then decide on all the other activities thereafter. We must, however, bear in mind that the sporting event is the main attraction, but it does equally well to have great additional activities to engage after the event is all over.

I hope Jamaica can register its major sporting events on that website so we can pick up a few additional visitors to our shores for the upcoming fall 2009 to spring 2010 season.

Some economies have reported that as much as 20 per cent of its visitors come to participate in sports and an additional 50 per cent comes to observe (watch). So, let us get on the new model for sport tourism and capitalise on the media-corporations-merchandising-markets model. As we prepare for Berlin 2009 and London 2012, let us bear those things in mind.

Events to look forward to in Jamaica this summer

Reggae Sumfest - July 19-25

Polo, July 25-August 1

International Marlin - September 26-30

Wata Rose Hall Triathlon and Wellness Festival - October 31.

I say we have space for a few more events.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Diary of a Sport Tourist

Dear diary,

Even in this time of recession this is a very exciting time for me and there are a few sporting events I want to attend this year. For the track and field fans we are all focused on the World track and field cham- pionships scheduled for Berlin, Germany, from August 15 to 23.

But before that there are a few track meets to go to, to see what the athletes are looking like.

Here are some tips for planning a trip:

Plan to travel with a group

Call your travel agent early so you can look at options for reasonable tickets

Book tickets for the event online

Call your friends in the city you are going to; you may be able to stay with them

Car pool if you must

If you are staying at a hotel, stay close to the venue

Look for the bus schedules (lots of hotels have free shuttles).

June 11, 2009

Usain Bolt is scheduled to be in Canada at the University of Toronto for the Festival of Excellence. He is up against US Olympian Shawn Crawford.

June 13 to 14

Jamaica's national junior track and field championships.

June 18 to 21

United States Golf Open, Long Island.

June 22, 2009

Wimbledon Tennis serves off in the UK

June 26 to 28

Jamaica's National Track and Field Championship in Kingston (the hottest and fastest athletes on the planet compete for a place in Berlin.

June 26 and 28

One Day International Cricket (India vs West Indies)

July 18

First Test in the Ashes series, England vs Australia (cricket)

Here are some other tips:

Pack lightly so you do not get charged for extra luggage

If you don't have to, do not check on. Harder for you to lose your bag

Get smaller travel size accessories (lotion, toothpaste, soap); some of these may even be available at the hotel

Find a hotel where continental breakfast is served (you do not have to buy regular breakfast)

Take a small camera so you can record the memories

Go to an internet kiosk close by to check your emails

Find easy ways to text your family back home.

Happy and safe travel!

The Trelawny debate continues

Here is feedback I received.

Adel wrote:

I read your article and found it disturbing that everyone seems to want the stadium to be used for sports. I think it would be a great idea to have the facility used as the western campus for UTech. Education is the key to social development. The sporting facility will still be there to host local and international events. As Jamaicans, we need to think about our long-term goals instead of these quick- fix methods.

Let's think how economically viable UTech would be in serving the schools in the immediate surroundings. The Government and others are only focused on sports and foreign exchange. We need to think about the future of the children of Jamaica in our planning. Of course, Trelawny is not only for yam and Olympians. Let's think about future architects, doctors, lawyers, teachers, welders, engineers, masons, carpenters, etc.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Make Trelawny Jamaica’s first Sporting Parish

As Jamaica bids for continued sport supremacy in the world, on and off the field, there are always more things to look at to create the competitive edge in a more organised way. Within the next three to five years the country will participate in a number of regional and international competitions which are aimed to reposition the country’s top-rated position in the sporting arena.

International competitions will come in football, cricket, track and field, netball, basketball and volleyball and the national athletes will have numerous opportunities to make Jamaica even prouder. There are two world championships and one summer Olympic Games up to 2012.

But while we continue to perform well externally, we need to capitalize on the income the country can and should be earning as a sport tourism destination. Even in this recession, consumers are going after products/services to suit their sophisticated taste buds…Jamaica, once you go you know.

Designate Trelawny Jamaica’s Sporting Parish

For economic gains we could establish a direct link with the success of the country’s sport industry with the parish. Here are some ideas

- Establish a museum/hall of fame/walk of fame with information of those from the parish
- Form a partnership with a major international firm to sponsor the facility. Start with a three to five year plan to host one major event a year
- Re-structure the Mutli Purpose facility to meet the growing demands of the sport and entertainment industries
- Get the schools involved to research the history of the parish
- Twin the parish with a town in either the UK, USA or Canada
- Re-brand the parish

Other cities have done this successfully in Canada, Malta and the UK. Why not Jamaica?

What makes Trelawny special?

A good percentage of our sporting stars come from Trelawny. The parish also has a sporting facility, Trelawny Multi Purpose Stadium, which has not even begun to be used to its full potential. The capacity of that facility has shown that it is able to host international competitions to bring about big crowds. With some structural adjustments the facility could do much more.

Here are just some of the famous sons and daughters of that parish: Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell Brown, George Kerr, Astia Walker, Michael Green, Debbie Ann Parris, Michael Frater, Marvin Anderson – track and field; Gerald ‘Hero’ Scott – football are just some of the people who have recorded success at the highest level.

There is accommodation – Braco, Starfish, FDR Pebbles; there are attractions – Outameni, Glistening Waters, Cockpit Country , just to name a few. There is also great potential for a cruise ship pier; and this parish is between St. James and St. Ann. Now if those reasons aren’t good enough, then.

A total of nine months after the success the country had in Beijing, I think this is a great way to consolidate our efforts in a serious way. Make way for the rest of the Trelawny stars to emerge. Let’s get to work.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trelawny Multi Purpose Complex

Coming up:

I weigh in on the use of the Trelawny Multi Purpose Complex and more importantly on the parish of Trelawny.
What should be done for the parish to maximise on the earning potential of the parish?

Please send your comments...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Use technology to promote sport

Jamaica's innovativeness will come into question over the next three to five years as we battle harsh economic times to continue to promote the island as a sport tourism destination.

So it is well known that we have the product, athlete and some reasonably cared facilities. We need to package them for two reasons:

1. To attract visitors to the island for the period of the events.

2. To have wide viewership around the region and the world.

I, therefore, call on the local producers, members of the film production community to merge their resources to create made-for-television events to distribute to the world community. Use the Internet as a way to distribute the product in a way that can also attract earnings.

The Internet has become a most valuable tool for distribution of content, why not sports?

Stream our events and ask consumers to pay. We have some events which have become prime content and our diaspora community which is hungry to view these events will pay and even advertise to provide additional income.

So, for 2010, let's look at Gibson Relays, Manning and daCosta Cup finals, senior netball finals, Boys and Girls' Championships are just some of the events we could stream. The alumni groups across the US and UK, I am sure, would be interested in these products. They must be marketed and promoted in an effective way to yield the best results.


There are opportunities at international trade fairs which the island can capitalise on by attending. A senior film official says, "While it is important to attend these events, we should look for agents who handle distribution of sports products in the regions being targeted as primary markets. The official noted that agents have specific catalogues they promote and distribute and the best way is to court those agents."

There are sport networks which may be open to negotiation to air some of these programmes, so we should seek that opportunity too. While we seek to promote in international markets, there is room for more local consumption. It is also a way of preserving our history so the next generation is up to speed.


Should Jamaica go after major sport events?

Jamaica was the featured country of the past Olympics and our athletes excelled beyond thought and expectations and there was no advertisement from the JTB saying, "Come to Jamaica ..." If it were not for Puma sponsoring Usain Bolt, Jamaica would have had no media presence.

Your ideas are excellent and I hope 'the powers that be' hear you and start implementing some internal changes in Jamaica to accommodate such a bold idea.

Sam from California

It has always been said that during the winter months the people who reside in the cold temperature want somewhere to train. Has anyone in Jamaica ever really explored the possibility of earning from anything like that?

I think your idea is excellent and just hope some of the people who run our sports programmes will get with the programme.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Should Jamaica go after Major Sporting Events?

As the world is being battered by the current economic recession, governments are seeking new and innovative ways to earn well-needed funds and to also provide jobs.

What then could help to boost Jamaica's economy? I say we go after two major sporting events over the next three to five years. These major events could attract

Foreign-exchange income for the country

International media attention

Temporary jobs for residents

Opportunities for other residents to volunteer.

Over the next five years, World Track and Field championship is in Berlin (August 2009), World Cup Football, South Africa (July 2010) and Summer Olympic Games, London, (2012) are just some of the major events to take place; but there will be need for preparation tournaments and championships prior to these events.

I see where the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) is about to host a USA and Jamaica bonanza; that would grab some attention, generating some well-needed funds. Also with Jamaica out of World Cup football, could we create a football festival where top teams (countries or clubs) can participate?

Also, could the cricket body look at its schedule over the next three years and see where a three/four nation five-day tournament could fit in.

Several news stories recently have shown where countries and states are moving towards sport tourism as an option, with the latest being Hawaii and also Thailand. One of the common reasons was "people need to feel good".

Last month, the Hawaii Tourism Authority voted to allow the NFL's Pro Bowl game to return to Hawaii in 2011 and 2012. The game has been held the week after the Super Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu since 1980, and has sold out every time.

JTB should see sport as a priority

Can the Jamaica Tourist Board work closer with the sporting federations to create our own sporting festival and throw their weight behind this venture? In light of the recent budget allocations to the industry, I am sure there are creative ways we can spread the money around effectively.

Malta recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Sheffield United and is using that collaboration to promote Malta as a sporting destination. Malta's training facilities, restaurants and other entertainment sites benefit over a two week period along with the media exposure. Malta's athletes also benefit from the technical courses run during this period; while volunteers are used to offer support services.

There are five or more internationally accepted sporting facilities across the island and so Jamaica should look to form relationships which will see countries, clubs and university/college teams come for a week or two to use the facilities, discover Jamaica and compete against our teams.

Let us look at a national football league, major league baseball, UK football club and any university in the US or Canada for starter and host one every half a year. That could generate the interest!

Note: The Jamaican people were the MVP for CHAMPS, April 1 to 4. Well done!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sport tourism and research

Sport-based travel has been a phenomenon for many decades but it has not been on the cards of researchers until recently. It is now a great time to build on the literature available to ensure that economies benefit from the opportunities which are available.

There are a number of things to consider in doing research as we identify the trends in the sport tourism market. First, is the research has to identify sport as an attraction and then develop a series of questions which can be used to highlight the relationship between the sport and tourism and how they can be explored.

Here are some generic questions:

What time of year do these tourists travel?

What are the foods they are likely to consume?

What are the attractions they are likely to visit?

What is the length of stay?

What are the modes of transportation?

Jamaica's situation is peculiar but interesting. Why? The physical layout of the facilities, attractions, beaches, accommodation is perfect, but there is need to package this information attractively enough to woo these new categories of travellers.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) can now take this as a project for the next three to seven years and ensure that a reasonable percentage of the US$4.5-trillion sport tourism industry comes to the Caribbean and more specifically, Jamaica.

UWI's creation in the Caribbean was formed on one basis - that unity and integration are possible. So while some of the more academically-charged efforts are being pursued. The sport tourism phenomenon has to be given time and space. In addition, the curriculum must be adjusted to include courses which will complement the research to be undertaken.

Dr Carolyn Hayle has been instrumental in some initial discussions, and her role on the board of directors for the Jamaica Tourist Board is one where she can make the difference we so desperately need. The collaboration necessary must see UWI teaming with colleges and universities abroad which can offer support. There is credibility in partnership. Research has to drive our new(er) way of thinking and sport tourism is a critical component of the bigger tourism sector, aimed at making major contributions to the economies of developing countries.

Making Jamaica the Next Best Travel Destination

So since there is a recession and we are looking for great ideas, let's refocus some of our energies in who we reach out to. Take China, for example, Jamaica has been an approved destination since 2005. How are we going to get them to come to Jamaica in the numbers which can fill up the coffers? What about the Germans? They have a settlement on the south coast, rebrand it and package it in a way to make it attractive. Let's be our brother's keeper and clean up the crime situation. When all is said and done, no one will come if there is a perception of a crime-ridden society.

Note: Witness the greatest high school show on earth, Kingston, Jamaica, April 1 to 4 ... Boys' and Girls' Championships. It's going to be a cracker!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sport to put Jamaican tourism in sprint mode

The stage was set at the recently concluded 33rd running of the Gibson Relays in Kingston. 14 records were broken and Jamaica has once again sent a message that there are more world beaters to come from this little rock.
The discussion is continuing about the country’s ability to churn out athletes year after year who continue to stun the world with credible and excellent performances and this year 2009 will be no different. The good thing about this is the pool is widening so there are a lot more athletes to choose from. Come June 2009 when the National Championships is over to choose the athletes to compete in the World Athletic Championships in Berlin, Jamaica should have a strong delegation.
The Diaspora should see themselves as part of this preparation by coming to Jamaica to witness the spectacular performances at a number of events this year:
1. Boys and Girls Championships – April 1 – 4
2. Jamaica Invitational – May 2
3. World Championship Volleyball Qualifier – May
4. National Track and Field Championships – June
There are a number of good options for sport; but we can collaborate with the theatre and music communities to see what plays and music shows will be on at that time and prepare a package for locals and visitors alike.
Studies have shown that people who generally love sports are the same ones who are likely to enjoy a good entertainment package, so I am urging organizers of these events to look to engaging visitors to come to REDISCOVER Jamaica around some of these dates. Reasonable air fares are now being advertised during these periods, so what more can we ask for.
I know there may be a bias towards the track and field events, but there are a number of activities we can think about which can be exciting enough to draw attention and certainly the visitors. Out west the Reggae Sumfest is on the calendar for July. So the attractions should benefit from these events. All I ask is that the proper packaging be done, so no area of the tourism gets left out.
The physical layout of the attractions, events and the warmth and hospitality of the Jamaican people are the most valuable assets; so I am urging us to take the advantage. Remember, in times of crisis, there is always a place for creativity and innovation (new ideas) which can emerge as a sustainable programme in years to come.

West Indies vs. England
I know the English men came to the Caribbean expecting little or no resistance from the West Indies; but what a wake up call they got. Cricket has once again proven to be a good sport tourism product and the Caribbean was the better off for it. So now that the tests are over, it is now on to the One Day Internationals and 20-20 matches.

Unofficial figures are showing that with each test the visitor number climbed, with Jamaica at the bottom of the table. If we do not fix the crime situation we are still going to be lagging behind our neighbours. We obviously have the best facilities and package to offer. Fix it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sport Tourism and Spring Break

Sports tourism and spring break

By now most destinations would have had their spring break plans in place and are hoping for higher numbers in visitor arrivals for this part of the winter tourist season.

Once Ash Wednesday passes, we know spring break is near. Entertainment is vital to this period, but I daresay we should, and must, include sport this time around to attract a different crowd to add to the already stressed college students who just want to have a great time on a tropical isle.

traditional sporting competitions

The real deal is the traditional sporting competitions may not work for spring breakers, but I am sure they will climb a rock for a margarita, or they would row a canoe across the ocean for a weekend for two, maybe even swim a channel or ride a five-mile distance. One thing is sure: They would apply physical skills while having fun and capturing a major prize, which has to be exciting.

What I also know is that these activities are done at individual properties, but I am advocating for these skill competitions to be done under the Jamaica Tourist Board banner and marketed as destination activity.

This would help to alleviate the stigma attached to spring break, which now seems to be boobs and booze. In addition to attracting just the MTV, BET-type stations, ESPN could be an outlet for the more sport oriented type of activity.

How about looking at a Brand Jamaica Strongest Man competition 'live' from Montego Bay, Jamaica? Now wouldn't that be something?

Another great idea would be to invite a professional team from the US or UK here for training for spring break. Major League baseball starts in the US on April 6 this year, so for next year, let's look at one of those teams which are located in one of the colder cities and have them here for a spring break practice session for a few days.

Let's take the Chicago White Sox, for example, a divisional champion of 2008. There are direct flights from Chicago; it gets very cold there and it is Obama's city. Just imagine the media attention the trip would make.

special invitations

We could work on the invitation immediately. Jamaica also has great ties with that city, so it may not be too difficult to get that arrangement going.

Some major cities across the US have not marketed their destination as a spring break attraction. Broward County in Florida, for example has suggested that "dropping spring break since 1986 has seen an increase from half a million to 10.8 million in 2008, over 20 years."

Jamaica, therefore, has to drive the demand for its new clientele by creating the products which are in demand.

Note: A campaign to plan for 2010 'Discover Jamaica for Spring Break 2010': Use our schools as an exercise in knowing our own country and then invite the world to do same.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Develop local market through sports

The local sporting industry can grow and develop into a bigger business if there are enough events on the calendar. This is possible once the patrons are willing to purchase tickets, products and services associated with the particular event.

Jamaica has a significant number of sporting events from as early as the first week in January right through to the end of the year to satisfy the demands of a wide variety of sporting patrons. Organisers and promoters of these events must however ensure that patrons have a safe and secure environment to enjoy their respective events.

The venues for these events must therefore be in ‘safe’ locations. Facilities should have secure gate/doors to encourage patrons to pay; therefore tickets should be available. If patrons see a value to the event, they will pay, eventually. The venues should also have sufficient parking facilities, clean toilet facilities and other relevant amenities.

Opportunities for small businesses

Vendors in various communities across the island also have an opportunity to earn from plying their ware. Apart from the regular food products which are popular and needed, patrons should have an opportunity to find a nice piece of Jamaican art or craft or even a fine piece of fabric. T-shirts are also a good idea.

While I am on the subject of food products, can we encourage the patrons to dump the plastic containers in the same place? I know there is a plan afoot to have the JAAA sign a deal with a local recycling company to claim the plastics we so often discard incorrectly. I wish we could have the blue drums all around the island soon.

Community empowerment has to be a focus as we try to create viable opportunities for micro and small businesses to grow. What better way we can do it than through sports? This can have a positive spill over to each community where jobs and even a chance for upgrade of service offerings take place.
For example, in the upcoming weeks, as the track meets, football games and some community cricket matches, move around the island and obviously draw huge crowds, let’s support the communities.

I wonder how Kingston did in the recent first test of the West Indies versus England match. We hope to hear the results soon. These are important in planning for future events.


Communities must be prepared to offer top class service to people. The agencies with responsibility for community development should enhance the current model to empower the people to offer the service demanded and required.

What could happen from this is community can then use their own resources to organise these events, build on their own skills and develop on the capacity to do bigger and better things. What a recognition the community would then receive?

Note: Gibson Relays should provide a great preview for what is to come for the rest of the year for track and field, Saturday, February 28.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gateway to wider 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!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sport Tourism Outlook 2009

While the pundits are painting a dim outlook for travel and leisure, they are not painting an overall dim picture for 2009. One of the bright sparks about the tourism pie is Sport Tourism, which the same experts are predicting, will remain consistent as in former years.

The expected growth for that sector remains at 10 per cent per annum according to KPMG at least for the next seven years.

The question is, Can Jamaica aggressively promote the island as a sport tourism destination? Ireland plans to spend €86 million on what is called “national, lifestyle and general interest” areas, hoping to attract a higher number of sport tourists to its shores.

What then is Jamaica’s plan? How that can piece of the pie be had in these harsh economic times? I guess it calls from some creativity and innovation, with the budget to match.

The country had a few products which helped in promoting the island as a sport tourist destination and were satisfactory in 2008. The Jakes and Rose Hall triathlons, the Reggae Marathon were just some of the few events on the calendar. There was interest in the National Track and Field Championships with Usain Bolt’s entrĂ©e into the 100 metres fray; but only the hard core came to watch. We may have attracted a few more television viewers.

Focus on Trelawny Multi Purpose Complex (TMPC)

One attraction owner said “We need to market the TMPC as an ideal location for spring training for American baseball and football teams. Its proximity to hotels and good beaches should make it an easy sell to the major baseball and football teams in North America. The economic benefits/spin-offs would be immediate - including the attendant press coverage for the country.”

Also, we need to develop more of the sport which will draw participants and TV coverage. Oh how I pray for the day when top-class golf competitions will return to this country. How much harder are we going to have to work to convince a major sponsor that Jamaica is the place for golf? The Tryall Golf Club needs to get back to its glory days.

The Jamaica Tourist Board could do more in the use of the slogan “Once you go, you know” for sports, leisure, music, food, etc. Do an ad campaign to include our athletes for a superstar event. You may recall I recommended this sometime before.

So I am voting for more non-traditional events

• Cross country cycling (will force the National Works Agency to fix the roads)
• Mountain climbing
• Any form of extreme sport (will attract the college crowd)
• Superstar obstacle races
• An additional triathlon, in the spring (for the athletes on spring break, in time for 2010)


Jamaica experienced the most successful year at the Summer Olympic Games, which was held in Beijing this past summer. The 11-medals haul, with six gold medals was a superb feat by any standard. The world’s eyes have been on us and the conversations will continue for a long time.

Along with the individual athletes, Jamaica has also been able to maintain prime spots in the international media and now the expectations, like that of Barack Obama are HIGH.

What will Berlin bring for Bolt and company? That too is something to look forward to. The opportunities are endless; the creative skills exist. And the financial support can be found.

The prospects are good for Jamaica for 2009 and beyond.