A 2007 study by the World Tourism Organisation reported that Tourism is the fastest growing industry. The study also revealed that international tourism grew by 6 per cent in 2007 to 903 million international tourists. Asia, as a region is expected to have the highest growth. The same study is also reporting that the tourism figure for the Americas is forecast to grow 4.79 per cent per year.
Studies have revealed that Sports Tourism is a multi-billion dollar business, one of the fastest growing areas of the $4.5 trillion global travel and tourism industry. It has become a vast international business attracting media coverage, investment, political interest, traveling participants and spectators. It is estimated that the sports industry can be responsible for as much as 2.5 per cent of world trade.
If sport then is such a decent chunk of the overall tourism product, then there should be a comprehensive effort to attract sports tourist to a destination. There are four distinct types of sports tourism
1. Hard – Olympics, World Championships, NASCAR and Soft – Hiking, Skiing, Rowing, Boating
2. Sport Events – Any type of organised local, regional or international competition which require general movement of people
3. Sports Hall of FAME or where FAMOUS people live
4. Active participants
Jamaica’s position today, gives it three out of four of the above-mentioned areas. We have enough cricket, football, tennis, golf, track and field, netball, basketball and horse racing facilities to have a plan in place for sporting events along with paid and unpaid staff to manage the events. The World knows we have enough famous persons from this country that people will go half way around the world to see…their homes, their place of origin and where they compete. Likewise a museum with the history would be equally exciting. The pool of athletes is increasing daily as Jamaica widens its horizon in sports from athletics to volleyball (A – Z of sport).
So whether it is cricket, track and field, football, golf, tennis, netball, triathlon or the marathon events, Jamaica could do with a Major Event Plan to accommodate events geared at earning, attracting visitors and media coverage strategically positioned in between other major events around the world.
What are we waiting for? Come July 27 to August 12 the rest of the world will watch keenly Jamaica’s performance in the London Olympic Games and all the products and services the island has to offer. How will the benefits be calculated? How will this speak to preparations for Russia in 2013; Brazil in 2014 and 2016 and by extension Jamaica 2012 and beyond?
The inter-agency private and public sector teams should now put their plans in motion with the expertise required to get the requisite funding and marketing support. The Jamaica Tourist Board, JAMPRO and the Ministry of Finance must have a handle in this. Let’s resuscitate the Major Events Attraction Programme (MEAP) which has the framework for this to work.
The Sport Tourist
The profile of a sport tourist is one is in the top ten spending tourists in the world, they are more adventurous, they like to travel, they tend to take family along since sport is such big entertainment and they also tend to return to the destination that offers a great experience.
Sport tourists also travel to destinations that are easy to get to, have great accommodation, fine restaurants and offer a great entertainment package. They also like to visit destinations with history and picturesque locations. Jamaica is an ideal location for Sport Tourists.
March 2012 ©