Thursday, January 7, 2010

SPORT takes centre stage in 2010

There is no doubt that there will be a plethora of major sporting activities across the world in 2010 which will help to highlight the growth and potential of the sport tourism market. Because of these events, sport tourists will be moving around to enjoy moments that they will cherish forever.
One easy competition is the World Cup Football, scheduled for South Africa which is just under 155 days away (as of Wednesday, January 6). Records from 2006 suggest that for one month, there were over three million spectators at the 64 games played, with an average of 52,000 spectators attending each game. The 2006 edition was also the most watched where it is reported that there were just over 26 million viewers.
South Africa (Motherland) will no doubt, try to outdo those numbers. What does this mean for the sport tourism element? People will still travel to see tournaments, enjoy the destination and be a part of history. That is what sport tourism aims to do.
Back home in Jamaica, the Boys Championships will be celebrating 100 years, and 11 years in combination with the Girls competition and already there is a buzz in Kingston of what is likely to happen. So the opportunities will be tremendous once the proper plans are in place.
The Inter Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) has outlined some of its plans and for the track and field fans, they are already on board; what then of the curious onlookers? So much has been written and spoken of Jamaica’s prowess in the athletics arena; shouldn’t this therefore be an opportunity for a multi-agency approach to attracting new groups to Jamaica? I did recommend that March 21 – 28 be designated track and field week in Jamaica, where we go after media in the areas of sports, lifestyle, food and locations to showcase the heartbeat of the Caribbean, Kingston.
In the first week of December nine major media houses from selected regions were in Kingston and the north coast to focus on Usain Bolt and his team ensured that the allure and essence of Kingston were captured as part of the overall picture. Those features are being aired from now until June as original runs and some may even feature repeats. We just need to keep the message going to attract the best of visitors to our shores.
As we continue to look at the prospects for Sport Tourism for 2010, the experts have determined it will carve out more of the overall tourism pie, accounting now for approximately 10 per cent. More money will be spent, more people will travel and so the destinations must improve its infrastructure and programmes (projects) which will capture the imagination of people.
Jamaica has the opportunity to go after sporting areas which has universal appeal and has the where-with-all to refocus its attention on sport tourism. The call is for the following associations to make the BOLD step forward – golf, tennis, swimming. There are additional opportunities for basketball, netball, hockey an football to focus on a new and untapped market – schools and colleges.
Here is my wish for a great year for sport tourism for Jamaica and by extension the Caribbean…we can do this!

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