Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beyond the Sun, Sea and Sand...Sport

It’s going to be great in 2008…isn’t that what we all said this year? Well let’s get to work.

We have flogged the sun, sea and sand pitch of selling Jamaica and sooner than later the competition will stop us right in our track, pun intended. How then will we sell Jamaica as a sport tourist destination?

It is well known across the world that we produce some of the best athletes the world has ever seen. So it must be something in the water we drink or the food we eat or just the fresh air we breathe. Let us package that and sell it.

How many people we could convince to walk the hills of Cold Spring, Hanover, to see where Merlene Ottey grew up? How many young English cricketers can we invite to Boys Town, Kingston to see where the great Collie Smith played?

What should we do to convince some young bright male athlete that if they visit Pleasant Valley, Clarendon where the late great Herb McKenley grew up, they could be motivated to perform excellently. They could probably even visit the Calabar facility on Red Hills Road, where the man spent a lot of time coaching and motivating young men to excel.

I am suggesting we add that dimension to our tourism product. Our sporting legacy can be worth much more if we coordinate our efforts. It could also be a source of information for Jamaican children here in schools. I bet there are a lot of us who could do with a little refresher.

As we prepare for the Summer Olympics this year, what better time than the present?

Puerto Rico is changing their strategy to attract visitors under a programme called Puerto Rico, explore beyond the shore. It is a publicity campaign which is showing the adventurous side of the country.

It is reported that the 2007 golf open in the UK, brought in 14 million pounds into the economy. Not only does golf attract high rollers; but the value of the media exposure is worth millions and the images of the country are broadcast far and wide.

So let us look at the adventure tours, the heritage facilities and any other relevant sporting activity we can design to attract visitors to our island.
I will ask Robert Lalah to help me find some places worthy of note for sport tourists. I see this as an idea for young entrepreneurs to talk to the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) and put the ideas into action.

I am also recommending that a Tourism Action Club in one of our many schools take on as a project, The Sport Tourism Spots in Jamaica. Consider places where one can swim, cycle, climb, crawl, slide or even jump, outside of a typical resort area, already set up.

I challenge that club in any school in Jamaica.

CHAMPS: Congratulations to the winners of the Boys and Girls Championships. Penn Relays should be a sizzling affair.

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