|Senior Technical Officer with the Ministry of Tourism, Allan Franklin (left), speaking with tourism consultant (from Elms Partnership, UK), Andy Preece, at the second Consultative Workshop on A Sports Tourism Strategy for Barbados.
The second in a series of consultative workshops on A Sports Tourism Strategy for Barbados has revealed that this country has much to gain – and offer – within this niche.
Held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, stakeholders in both the accommodation and sports sectors listened to the proposals offered by consultant Andy Preece in his report on the future of the industry.
Senior Research Officer at the Ministry of Tourism, Allan Franklin, opened the proceedings by emphasising that "this workshop represents one component of a
wider initiative by the Ministry of Tourism to foster the continued and focused development of sports tourism in Barbados.?? At the same time, it’s also characteristic of the Ministry’s thrust to work more closely with its stakeholders in the various facets of the industry," he said.
He explained that the development of a "viable and sustainable sports tourism product" was the focus of the exercise, which has also seen the completion of meetings and discussions with stakeholders, background research and site visits to event facilities over the past four months.
Throughout his presentation, Mr. Preece offered his assessment of the sports tourism sector, which included: the need for increased coordination of sports events; along with a post mortem of activities, to establish the benefits of hosting such events; and the compilation of data to determine the impact of events, to assist in the acquisition of sponsorship – a practice which he commended the coordinators of the SOL Rally Barbados for having embraced.
He added that growth of the sector would depend on improving the existing competitions on the island and the inclusion of sports related conferences, congresses and workshops to the existing sports tourism mix.
He observed that: "Fundamentally, we need to find a way to leverage some of the benefits that we can get from sports tourism…there is always that challenge at the back of your mind, ???what’s in it for my [specific] sport??? Because we’re talking about tourism and isn’t tourism a business?…’
"But, there is recognition that if we have a strong sports tourism sector, then that has benefits for individual sports as well.?? It raises the standard of competition; it can impact on facility provision and the quality of facilities; and it can impact other sports development areas too," he revealed.
Among Mr. Preece’s suggestions were: the need to enhance the revisions to embarkation/disembarkation cards to collect a wider range of relevant data and make provision for a stand-alone sports tourism baseline survey; the creation of a facilities guide and event calendar to aid the efficient planning of sports tourism events; and promoting the use of natural event assets, such as beaches.
Although he acknowledged there was much work to be done, since the niche featured competition from neighbouring territories, such as South America, he highlighted the fact that Barbados did have some advantages and could use existing resources – such as known sportsmen Ryan Brathwaite and Suki King – to promote the island’s growing sports tourism sector.
"The very good thing is that a lot of the key building blocks that you need are already in place…You’ve got things that other destinations would love to have, in terms of growing sports tourism.?? You have got the accessibility; you have got the accommodation…the list of strengths is at least twice as long as the list of weaknesses," Mr. Preece stressed.