Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thinking outside the box: Sport Tourism

Sport Tourism and its ability to attract visitors to the island should not be limited to traditional events, like golf, tennis, polo or even beach volleyball; it can instead look at the specific features of Jamaica and create events which can be ‘culturally inspired’.

We can also take traditional competitions like a triathlon and tweak it so the country can benefit from visitors and residents getting the opportunity to see more of Jamaica, while enjoying the offerings of cuisine and various entertainment packages.

Jake’s Resort, recently completed Triathlon is a great example of a sport tourism product which can attract a new type of sport tourist and the island is able to benefit tremendously from media exposure at the same time.

The very-exciting 500 metres swim, 25 kilometer bike ride and the seven kilometer run along Jamaica’s south coast is a physical challenge; however for the spectators it is an opportunity to watch and cheer, while enjoying the tropical weather in Jamaica, even if it rains. Good job Jake’s and I look forward to an annual event. Let’s get major sports network on board to broadcast this so we can have bigger and better events.


Years ago, Jamaica was host of the Snapple Superstars where American superstars participated in swimming, weightlifting, kayaking, golf, basketball shoot-out, cycling, half mile run and a 100-metre dash. Jamaica is not short on stars and I am sure we could have our own “Superstars” event.

Imagine for a moment Asafa Powell, Ricardo Gardener, Elaine Davis, Winston Griffiths, Oberon Pitterson, Brigitte Foster Hylton, Kali McCarthy, Simone Forbes, Paul Lalor and more competing in such an event. Outside of the media frenzy it would create, it would be a ‘made for TV event’.

It is also an additional opportunity for spectators and fans to get to see another side of some of their favourite people; while it gives the superstar an opportunity to relate to their peers in other sporting areas. Even in the preparation/training for the challenging event, there would be an opportunity for interaction.

I challenge the Western Hotels Association to re-organise this event, under the Jamaican banner for next April/May, a full year to plan, so we can host this fabulous event. I know it can be a success. If this comes on the calendar every two years then we have something to look forward to. We could throw in one international sport star as special guest, to create international appeal.

The US Model featured Jason Sehorn (New York Giants); Tim Raines (New York Yankees), Erik Williams (Dallas Cowboys) and Michael Westbrook (Washington Redskins). It was aired on ABC and a number of international journalists came. Win win for all.

LIGHTNING “BOLT” was in true form on Saturday, May 3, and if you were not there to see it live and living colour, well there are a number of places you can see the race. The 21-year old lit up the track with a spectacular 9:76 seconds in his third major competitive 100 metres. I also saw the 10:03 a few months ago, so I knew he had it in him. FYI – by Sunday, May 4 up to 7:00 p.m. over 10,000 hits were on for just that race. Phenomenal! Good luck in Beijing!

Polo – another option for sport in Jamaica. Jamaica recently hosted the 19th ICWI international ladies tournament with players from Singapore, Argentina, Britain and Zimbabwe and Lesley-Ann Masterton Fong Yee was one of the most valuable players. She also performed creditably in the NCB Tournament on Sunday, May 4. Non traditional game with a specific market appeal…why not?

Jamaica has the goods, look at the diversity. Let’s deliver.

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