Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett believes the country has failed to fully capitalise on its sporting legacy, and is convinced that it’s time for a concerted push for a strong and recognisable marriage between sports and tourism, as a driver for economic and social growth.
Bartlett, who was one of several speakers at Friday’s final day of the Carole Beckford and Associates and Samuda and Johnson-organised two-day ‘Business of Sport’ conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, underlined the country’s failure to make the most of its international sporting reputation and its hosting of major sporting events.
“Jamaica has not responded in the way that it should to accommodate the power of the business of sport,” Bartlett confessed. “We have not done as much as we should, even when we sought to host mega events like the Cricket World Cup in 2007. The legacy has not inured to the development of the country in the way that it should have, and that is a major point of consideration.”
“This is an area that has so much potential to transform the economy of Jamaica and to transform many lives in Jamaica, and also to influence our position on the global stage,” Bartlett added.
Diversify sporting product
The minister, who pointed to a need for Jamaica to diversify its tourism offering on the back of increased competition across the region and the wider world, pointed out the need to play a greater part in the diversification of the country’s sporting product.
“Sports and tourism is a winning combination,” Bartlett shared. “An important issue to us in tourism is the whole matter of redefining ourselves. We are essentially regarded as an island with sand, sea and sun, and we will market that until eternity. It has worked, and we are one of the finest warm-weather destinations in the globe.
“However, the world is not standing still, there is transformation going on, and some countries hitherto, that never thought of tourism as a part of their lot, are now main markets in the world. Among the key reasons why people are travelling are health and fitness, cultural, ecological, education and sports,” Bartlett added, before sharing that he will be asking a group of consultants to measure the potential of sports tourism in Jamaica.
“We haven’t done a study for Jamaica, and that will be a part of the new initiatives that we are moving towards now. A number of consultants will be coming in to assess the economic impact of tourism on the economy, and I will see if we can morph that to examine the potential for sports tourism in Jamaica,” said Bartlett.
“We have taken all of this for granted so much that we have not focused on how we can use this to our own enrichment and to the own improvement of the standard of living as a people, and how we can use these skills,” Bartlett noted. “We take it for granted while other people realise more and more how they can use our skills to enrich themselves, and they are doing it to great effect.”