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.

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