From the athletes who travel to participate in sporting activities to the fans who travel to observe, that is the real definition of a sport tourist.
And where will they be this summer? As I mentioned in my last contribution, 'Diary of a sport tourist', there are so many sporting events to observe this summer, but what are the other attractions which could really force me to make a decision to go to any destination apart from sport? What really does sweeten the pie?
Take Jamaica, for instance. Up to September, there are a number of events which could be of interest in the areas of football (soccer), basketball, cricket, netball, volleyball, polo, horse racing, golf, just to name a few. But what are the other factors why I would come to Jamaica to watch these events?
What we should first acknowledge is that the ability to understand the model of sport has changed and it is not just the feel-good factor of when a team of choice wins or one of our athletes has done well. It is a situation where there is a significant amount of money which can be had from the associations with media, merchandisers and tour operators. The sport tourism industry has grown exponentially and has attracted, since 2007, a sport tourism search engine www.sportsevents365.com, which was set up in 2007.
At the click of a mouse
What this website/operation aims to achieve is to be the largest database for sports events in the world. In taking a tour of the website, I was able to look at prices for tickets, seating locations, directions to venues, hotels and flights. These are accompanied with a map which outlines other attractions close by, including restaurants, nightclubs, etc.
Imagine a golf tournament is at Cinnamon Hill, which would be the 'star' location, then the map would entail the hotels, restaurants and other attractions close by. Or if there is a track and field meet in Kingston, the visitors should be able to purchase tickets online and see the layout so they know where they want to sit and then decide on all the other activities thereafter. We must, however, bear in mind that the sporting event is the main attraction, but it does equally well to have great additional activities to engage after the event is all over.
I hope Jamaica can register its major sporting events on that website so we can pick up a few additional visitors to our shores for the upcoming fall 2009 to spring 2010 season.
Some economies have reported that as much as 20 per cent of its visitors come to participate in sports and an additional 50 per cent comes to observe (watch). So, let us get on the new model for sport tourism and capitalise on the media-corporations-merchandising-markets model. As we prepare for Berlin 2009 and London 2012, let us bear those things in mind.
Events to look forward to in Jamaica this summer
Reggae Sumfest - July 19-25
Polo, July 25-August 1
International Marlin - September 26-30
Wata Rose Hall Triathlon and Wellness Festival - October 31.
I say we have space for a few more events.