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The huge challenge for sports tourism

Through its Sports Department, the Ministry of Tourism successfully conducted a very significant forum on Wednesday.

The special event, an”interface”with sports leaders, hotel and airline providers, was hosted by the Ministry of Tourism at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort with Ministry of Tourism Sports Director Tyrone Sawyer as the point person.

In place were all of the lead players from the government in tourism and sports: Minister of Tourism Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, his Director General David Johnson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard and his Sports Director Tim Munnings.

Sawyer and his team did an excellent job in getting a cross-section of Nassau-based sports leaders together with hospitality providers and airline executives. However, a missing element was a strong representation of sports leaders from the Family Islands.

Very often through the years, there has been this great focus on New Providence for such gatherings. This situation is one of the many challenges the Ministry of Tourism and its sports maestro Sawyer have in driving effectively forward the national sports/tourism program. It was clear that there is an imbalance in how small sports groups are treated across the board compared to larger groups.

The hotel rates offered generally to sporting federations make for a very troubling matter also. Bahamas Football Association President Anton Sealey put forth the proposal for a set hotel rate(no matter the seasons), for sports groups that seek to be accommodated at the hotels in the country.

He is right on.

If the sports/tourism concept is to function to the fullest, the hotels must be agreeable to work with the sporting federations, whether the rooms requested are three or 300. We all know that full occupancy is not normal for most hotel properties. If a room is going to be empty anyway, what’s wrong with giving a sports travel group a comfortably-reduced price, generating some revenue at the very least?

Those are some of the challenges faced as we strive to solidify a sensible sports/tourism package.

There is yet another point Minister Vanderpool-Wallace, Tourism Director Johnson and Sawyer ought to be aware of.

The Interface of Wednesday past was not a first for the Ministry of Tourism. Several of the same kind have been organized before. Nothing much came out of them. All the sports leaders were invited. They came out and presented very much the same proposals and requests for assistance in better developing the nation’s sports/tourism brand. Ministry representatives took notes then, as did Sawyer and his associates on Wednesday. However, there was no meaningful follow-up.

Minister Vanderpool-Wallace is one of the best in the political arena at”talking.”He always sounds intelligent and well-meaning. He is challenged, however, to cause the ministry’s latest sports forum to make a positive difference for sports/tourism in the country.

Sports leaders across the nation await the follow-up.

HON. VINCENT VANDERPOOL-WALLACE

…Minister of Tourism

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