The steady growth of sports tourism has been an added benefit to Barbados??? heritage product.
So said Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, at the opening ceremony of the Judo Pan American Cup 2014, held at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium on Saturday.
Mr. Lashley explained that the island???s UNESCO World Heritage Property, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, had provided a niche market for Barbados.
???What has complimented this heritage achievement is the steady growth of sports tourism. There is cricket, which has been attracting visitors for many, many years; polo, horse racing and golf to name a few. But there are other disciplines which have the potential to grow this market in a big way. Judo has shown itself to be one such discipline,??? he said.
The Minister also lauded the Barbados Judo Association for ???this landmark achievement in hosting this prestigious event???. He added that hosting the Pan Am Cup 2014 not only gave participating athletes the opportunity to showcase their skills, but it also allowed for the building of camaraderie and fostering of friendships.
Encouraging the athletes to demonstrate high sportsmanship, he said a number of sports facilities in Barbados were being refurbished or redeveloped.??The Sports Minister pointed out that the Gymnasium, which was a gift from the People???s Republic of China, was part of Barbados??? sports tourism thrust.
???It is now in need of some work and we are grateful to the Chinese Government, which has agreed to assist Barbados in refurbishing the Gymnasium. I expect that by the time the next tournament is held in Barbados under the auspices of the Judo Association, the improvements will be obvious,??? Mr. Lashley disclosed.
He continued: ???The Ministry is currently working on the formulation of a National Sports Policy. It is envisaged that this National Sports Policy will reinforce our commitment to sport and provide the policy and regulatory framework in which this development would take place. This policy will also inform the drafting of Barbados’ first Sports Development Act.???
President of the Barbados Judo Association, Hoskins Caddle, said it was an honour for the island to host the event, which was a qualifier for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. He added that hosting the tournament was challenging but credited the Arts and Sports Promotion Fund and the resilience of the Association and its partners for its realisation.
The countries participating in the Pan Am Cup 2014 are Argentina, The Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela and Barbados.