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.

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