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International bowling tournament to boost Sports Tourism

The reach of sports tourism reach will be expanded once again next year when the country hosts the Bahamas International Bowling Classic (BIBC).

This is the first time the event will be held outside of the United States, but still in the Americas Zone. The May 14-20 tournament will bring some of the top bowlers from the World Bowling Tour, and their fans to the shores of The Bahamas. The attractive World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA) event is being endorsed by the Government of The Bahamas under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Tourism. It has a prize purse of$125,000 and will take place at the famous Mario’s Bowling and Entertainment Palace.

Owner of the 50-lane facility, Leslie Miller said he was pleased that the government has launched their support behind the tournament, and the steps taken by the staff at the facility in promoting bowling in the country and worldwide. He is confident that the international event will boost tourism, raise the level and knowledge of the game and will create more opportunities for Bahamians.

“We are indeed privileged to[see]what is taking place, and want to thank you for your support,” said Miller, at yesterday’s press briefing. “We recognized last year, when we had our opening, that it was time to put The Bahamas on the map. We are a sports power in track and field, and other sports as well so we wanted to get bowling involved. Why we thought it was so important was last year, we were able to secure scholarships in excess of $100,000 to give to Bahamian students to attend universities in the United States. There are 267 colleges in the United States that give out full scholarships in bowling. We couldn’t give one Bahamian the scholarships. We had to send the offers back to the universities. That is because in our system, unlike the United States, Canada and Europe, we haven’t implemented a full program for the sport of bowling. The kids in the United States have bowling as an integral part of their studies in high schools and universities.

“We are hoping, in the very near future, we can do likewise. That we can enable our students to get these scholarships that are out there. I think once the sport catches on in The Bahamas, we will grow from strength to strength.”

The WTBA connects bowling tournaments around the world linking events held in France, Helsinki, Finland, the U.S., Kuwait and Thailand. These events are open to both men and women bowlers. Participants are awarded points in all tour events, with the top players from each division receiving prize money.

According to Director of Sports Tourism Tyrone Sawyer, in the Ministry of Tourism, the country will benefit tremendously from this tournament. He is expecting a large financial injection into the economy, stating that visitors tend to go throughout the various islands, so the wealth is spread to different places.

“We are very keen to see bowling spread to Grand Bahama,” said Sawyer. “We will like to see the benefits flow to all of our islands. We are very optimistic. We seek clear benefits now and as these events grow, the people will as well. When you look at tourism, years ago it was sun, sand and sea and people came and they planned that vacation. Today, it is more of what we call an infinite base. People go because they like to golf or play tennis. So we are going to see more and more persons who like to bowl come to our destination, because we are hosting this type of event here.”

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