Sports tourism director working closely with BOC
Director for Sports Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, Tyrone Sawyer, said more focus and attention will now be placed in the Sports Tourism market. A closer relationship with The Bahamas Olympic Committee(BOC)and federations will also be established.
He said: ”Sports Tourism has tremendous potential, I would say unlimited potential. Sports Tourism is big here now and we are just focusing on it, in a more targeted way, so like you said we aren’t only sun, sand and sea. When we market now we find persons who say that they would like to travel because I love to play tennis or because I can play golf at the same time. You find persons who want to travel because they can actually go and be a part of a basketball event.
“We are finding that the opportunities in Sports Tourism are extremely great and the goal, strategy and objective is to stimulate air stop over arrivals, and also room growth through the vehicle of Sports Tourism events. We are successfully accomplishing that through close liaison with The Bahamas Olympic Committee(BOC)and with the various sporting federations. I must say that we must give credit to all the sporting bodies because they have been very helpful to us. We have established a relationship where we put our resources to their disposal and the results are great.”
Last year more than 20 international teams competed in tournaments hosted by local federations. Some tournaments are now listed as annual events
on the sporting calendars. One sporting organization in particular, the Bahamas Basketball Federation(BBF), schedules tournaments every year for National Collegiate Athletic Associations(NCAA) Division I teams-the Junkanoo Jam event and the Sunshine Shootout just to name a couple. Other events hosted recently in The Bahamas were in the sporting disciplines of cricket, tennis, rugby, soccer and swimming.
“Our efforts are just underway and we are not in the position yet, where we have gotten a good handle on it,”said Sawyer.”In the case of basketball through many years through the Bahamas Basketball Federation(BBF)we have had different events and tournaments take place-one being the tournament over the Christmas hosted here in New Providence on Paradise Island. You have the Junkanoo Jam tournament that take place with the Division I women’s teams, in Grand Bahama, over the Thanksgiving weekend. That is extremely popular. There are other tournaments as well.
“You have routinely in the case of rugby, they would host up to 15 teams per year. The Bahamas Rugby and Football Union(BRFU), they have been doing it successfully for years and we commend them for it and thank them and support them in anyway that we can. Of course, you have the cricket association which takes teams to a lot of international matches and welcomes teams right here to The Bahamas. Last year, we had the Caribbean Darts Championships taking place in Marsh Harbour, Abaco where nine or 10 Caribbean countries came. The beauty of it is what we are trying to do in tourism is try and get these events so that it won’t be too Nassau centered but let it take place throughout the islands of The Bahamas.”
An even greater increase in numbers are expected when the new stadium, Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, is completed. The seating capacity is 30,000. The stadium was a gift from the People’s Republic of China and has an estimated value of$40 million.
Sawyer said:”We would continue to aggressively promote and market, and in the case of the new stadium, that will of course be driven by the new Sports Act, that is currently before parliament. What has happened is our respective ministers have agreed that we will work closely, so we have partnered with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture so that we can stimulate sporting events in the country. The new stadium, we see that as playing a key role because it is coming in July. Time is now of the essence because we have to get ourselves structured in a way where we are able to book these events before the stadium is completed, so we are going to have some kind of momentum already built. We are looking forward to playing our role and making that happen.”