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.