Monday, August 22, 2011

Jamaica - a sporting destination

Let’s go back…way back! Word is out that the ‘sun, sea and sand’ could be Jamaica’s best assets in promoting the island as a sporting destination.

Jamaica’s sporting achievements are well known on and off the field but as the small country approaches its 50th year of independence, there are efforts to capitalise on the multi-billion dollar sport and sport tourism industries for economic gain.

Jamaicans grace the field in as much as 20 sporting areas on the international scenes with credible and sometimes outstanding performances. More and more the athletes also make front pages of newspapers, magazine covers, billboards, television and radio appearances and even endorsed products and services. But the question remain, how can Jamaica earn from this? The answer is major sporting events.

Jamaica’s ability to earn significantly from sport has to be by hosting major events which brings in a large number of people, brings positive news about the country, attract significant coverage from a variety of media, impact on community and its residents and parades the technical capacity of volunteers. Access to venues is also critical and to venues which are close to rooms and attractions for the additional exposure to the exotic and adventure seeking visitor.

Tim Schneider, a US sport marketing expert and publisher thinks "Jamaica has so much to offer for someone who organises a major sporting event and so my suggestion is that Jamaica looks at making itself available as a host country for all sort of different events that aren't necessarily based here." Schneider who was a guest presenter at the Business of Sport two-day conference in May also suggested that "it's a competitive market now but because of the natural features of this island, it's just a perfect location for a variety of events and I think that can really help to build the economic impact that's realised from hosting international events."

It was on that basis that the natural resources of ‘sun, sea and sand’ were suggested focusing on sport/events like beach volleyball and other beach events, road events and even adventure events which include hiking, camping and obstacle events.

Sport is believed to now capture 10 per cent of the overall tourism market, but is set to increase over the next seven years with back to back major sporting events including World Cup Football, Summer Olympic Games and many other championships.

Jamaica’s competitive and comparative advantages being near-shore, hotel rooms, attractions, host venues, air seats and some of the nicest people in the world must be reasons why the country should focus its attention on marketing the island as a sporting destination.

Tourism experts in the Ministry and Jamaica Tourist Board have hinted at efforts to go this route in a more serious way and the Minister, Ed. Bartlett confirmed that when he spoke at the Business of Sport conference earlier this year. Minister has also added his support to the 2012 edition now scheduled for May 3- 6.

We look forward!

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