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Developing sports tourism

Having recently completed a strategic sports tourism plan, I feel that I need to keep my readers up-to-date with what is in the plan and how we will make progress in relation to it.

The first thing that I believe that everyone should know in relation to sports tourism in Barbados is our definition of it, which is: “Sports tourism is any activity in which people are attracted to travel to a particular location as a sport event participant, spectator, or official or to attend sport attractions or related business meetings”.

Now that we have clearly defined what constitutes sports tourism, we have a framework to advancing our efforts in terms of data collection in order to be more accurate in terms of the true value and impact of sports tourism here in Barbados. This definition of sports tourism is a modification of the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance definition of sports tourism in Canada.

The second thing that I believe that readers ought to know is, what is our proposed vision for sports tourism here in Barbados, which is: “To position Barbados as the number one sports tourism destination in the Caribbean offering diverse and exciting opportunities for visitors, as well as the local communities, which result in direct economic and other benefits”.

These are two very critical elements of our future in sports tourism here in Barbados. Not only do we now know better what it is that we are calling sports tourism, but we also have a much better idea of where we want to take it and it to take us.

These two elements of our sports tourism fit right into my thinking that sports tourism is an all-encompassing activity. Barbados already delivers a diverse range of sporting events across many sporting disciplines.

Perhaps, there is additional potential to take this to another level and include sports conferences and meetings. In order for us to truly fulfill our mission, we are going to have to move our sporting professionalism to a new level.

In many countries, sports tourism is big business, with the emphasis on business. Before an event is hosted, a calculation is done of the economic impact that it is expected to have on the destination and the communities within the destination.

This type of professional approach sets the proper framework for sponsorship and funding. I believe that we too can achieve this level of professionalism and quite frankly, we must.

There is too much depending on tourism, especially sports tourism for us to take a lesser approach. Nothing less than absolute professionalism will do.

* Tourism is our business, let us play our part.

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