Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sport Tourism and Agriculture

Much has been said about the athletic prowess of Jamaicans. I could go down a list of things people have surmised about:
1. the weather
2. the water
3. the hills
…but I am here to propose that there is a direct correlation between the talent and the food…yes the food. I know you are all wondering where I am going with this.

Let’s take a serious look at where SOME of our top performing athletes are from and analyse the agricultural strength of those areas.

Jackie Pusey, Beverley McDonald are all from St. Mary; Pablo McNeill, Veronica Campbell Brown, Michael Green, Usain Bolt are all from Trelawny; we have seen what the Christiana area has produced over the last ten years in the Holmwood camp and we have a few scattered over the island.

St. Mary is the home of the best grown bananas…high in potassium and its importance to the diet is, it helps to reduce the risk of hypertension and kidney diseases. Well, what can I say about Trelawny, home of the greatest tasting yam in the world. Yam can be used to make wine, bun, cake, pudding and punch.

Let me declare that I have no scientific evidence of this correlation, however, what I can tell you is Professor Errol Morrison and Dr. Henry Lowe are working on something and I am sure they are eager to tell the world.

The Benefits

My thoughts may be trivial to some of you…but in light of creative tourism marketing we can make this an attraction. People all over the world, want to be Jamaican. They want to be a Jamaican who can run, play football, sing and dance. If for any reason they think that it is because of the food, they will come here to have the experience.

Like everything else though, it must be packaged. The organisers of the Trelawny Yam Festival may want to have home boy Usain endorse the festival with words like: Hi, I am Usain, Jamaican track and field star. I was born and raised in Trelawny and my diet must include Yam. If you want to run as fast as I can……”

Remember Jimmy Adams and Serge Island Milk? We must find creative ways and means to get more visitors to our island and if we believe our own stories, then others will hear it and believe it too.

Next Steps

If we think there is a method to our talent in sport and there is definitely a connection to be made we should make all the necessary plans to get that research going. I therefore call on the Universities of the West Indies and Technology to get the research going, so maybe in our lifetime we can know the true story.

I know my storytellers are just waiting to start writing and my filmmakers to start filming. There is a story to tell, and we need to tell it ourselves.

For all the promoters of food festivals, when you sit in your next set of planning meetings, invite one of our local scientists…you may never know what can turn up.

I want to hear from you on this one.

P.S. We can now start doing research on cassava

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Special Events for Sport Tourism

Summer is here. It is an Olympic year. It is also the year when so many other major sporting events are on around the world. Some of these events are way too costly for the ordinary person, while some are more affordable. Thanks to television most of us can view even excerpts live and delayed.

At the recent Commonwealth Conference on Sport Tourism, the Director General, Commonwealth Tourism Centre, Malaysia, Abdul Rahman Shaari was quoted as saying “more and more countries are designing special events to attract tourists to their respective countries. The conference which was held in May 2008 is also reporting that the over 50 Commonwealth countries offer an eclectic blend of tourism environments, attractions, histories, interests, expectations and experiences.

Jamaica is part of that group, which has been offering and will continue to offer a unique experience. But as always, more can and should be done to attract greater numbers to the island.

I have mentioned some of the very special events we have throughout the year…the Gibson Relays, Boys and Girls Championships, May Invitational are just some of the calendar events and we need more. You would notice those events are track and field. There needs to a wider variety.

I suggest we create a sporting (special) event around the time we have the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues, so patrons can find something to do during the day. How about a rock climbing (made for TV) competition? How about a Cockpit Country Challenge? The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JHNT) could create a trail with proper signs, so it serves as a competition and also as a history lesson. These events could be packaged and sold to high-profile television networks which have these types of events in their programme schedules.

Even for Reggae Sumfest, we could design an extreme sport contest to appeal to the age-group which will more than likely attend the one-week event. Plus if MTV has an additional reason to be here in Jamaica, then why not? I think we need to seriously explore those possibilities.

The sustainability of the sport tourism product has to be guided by policy and programmes aimed at generating revenue, exposure and job opportunities. The design and implementation elements of the programme have to bear those things in mind.

Special events are not just for the moment, but instead developers of these events have a role in attracting those who
1. travel to play
2. travel to watch
3. travel to learn

Jamaica has so much to offer to all those groups. Yes we can!

Well done JAAA
If you were lucky to be at the National Stadium in Kingston between June 27 and 29, you would have witnessed one of the most exciting national track and field championships anywhere in the world. The JAAA should be commended for a great effort in organising a great event. Now the 52 athletes who have been selected are in the spotlight between August 8 and 24 in Beijing. We all look forward!

An event to witness close to the end of July…the showdown between Tyson Gay (9.68 seconds with a 4.1 m/s wind) versus Asafa Powell (9.74 seconds). Even without Bolt in the mix it is going to be a cracker. If you are close to Crystal Palace, London, you should go.