Friday, March 20, 2009

Sport to put Jamaican tourism in sprint mode

The stage was set at the recently concluded 33rd running of the Gibson Relays in Kingston. 14 records were broken and Jamaica has once again sent a message that there are more world beaters to come from this little rock.
The discussion is continuing about the country’s ability to churn out athletes year after year who continue to stun the world with credible and excellent performances and this year 2009 will be no different. The good thing about this is the pool is widening so there are a lot more athletes to choose from. Come June 2009 when the National Championships is over to choose the athletes to compete in the World Athletic Championships in Berlin, Jamaica should have a strong delegation.
The Diaspora should see themselves as part of this preparation by coming to Jamaica to witness the spectacular performances at a number of events this year:
1. Boys and Girls Championships – April 1 – 4
2. Jamaica Invitational – May 2
3. World Championship Volleyball Qualifier – May
4. National Track and Field Championships – June
There are a number of good options for sport; but we can collaborate with the theatre and music communities to see what plays and music shows will be on at that time and prepare a package for locals and visitors alike.
Studies have shown that people who generally love sports are the same ones who are likely to enjoy a good entertainment package, so I am urging organizers of these events to look to engaging visitors to come to REDISCOVER Jamaica around some of these dates. Reasonable air fares are now being advertised during these periods, so what more can we ask for.
I know there may be a bias towards the track and field events, but there are a number of activities we can think about which can be exciting enough to draw attention and certainly the visitors. Out west the Reggae Sumfest is on the calendar for July. So the attractions should benefit from these events. All I ask is that the proper packaging be done, so no area of the tourism gets left out.
The physical layout of the attractions, events and the warmth and hospitality of the Jamaican people are the most valuable assets; so I am urging us to take the advantage. Remember, in times of crisis, there is always a place for creativity and innovation (new ideas) which can emerge as a sustainable programme in years to come.

West Indies vs. England
I know the English men came to the Caribbean expecting little or no resistance from the West Indies; but what a wake up call they got. Cricket has once again proven to be a good sport tourism product and the Caribbean was the better off for it. So now that the tests are over, it is now on to the One Day Internationals and 20-20 matches.

Unofficial figures are showing that with each test the visitor number climbed, with Jamaica at the bottom of the table. If we do not fix the crime situation we are still going to be lagging behind our neighbours. We obviously have the best facilities and package to offer. Fix it!

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