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!

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