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Sports tourism eyes $13M for economy

Niche tourism business projected to create 20K room nights this fiscal year, as stakeholders decide direction of national stadium
  • Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium has reportedly won its bid to host the inaugural IAAF World Relay Track & Field Championship in 2014/2015. File Photo

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Jun 21, 2012

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A Ministry of Tourism official says sports tourism is projected to generate $13 million for the 2012/2013 fiscal year and haul in 20,000 room nights.

Director for Sports Tourism Development Tyrone Sawyer revealed that this niche business is now growing at a rapid pace and should yield strong economic benefits. Increased efforts by the ministry to promote The Bahamas as a sports tourism destination are paying dividends.

“Sports tourism is performing very well,” Sawyer said. “Yes, we have seen greater interest by international bodies to host events in the islands of The Bahamas.  One major example of this would be the recent agreement to host the Inaugural IAAF World Relay

Track & Field Championship in 2014/2015. The Ministry of Tourism's Sports Tourism Unit has positioned itself to work as closely as possible with local federations and sports event planners.”

Sawyer explained that new e-mail campaigns to generate attendance, trade shows and seminars to meet top sports travel planners, and branding through social media have helped to create the buzz. His department has also arranged press trips to maximize publicity and consumer awareness of events in the country.

A number of sporting events have been planned for the year, according to Sawyer, with at least 10 that will be major contributors to the $13 million projected for the fiscal year. One of the more popular events is the Battle 4 Atlantis, a men’s college basketball tournament, that will be held in December. The inaugural tournament in 2010 generated $2.25 million, according to Sawyer, and Atlantis was running at full occupancy during that period.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said last month that sports tourism will be one of the driving factors to increase visitors coming to The Bahamas. Sawyer admitted that having a proactive approach and collaborating with all parties involved is key to maximizing the sector.

One of the parties that Sawyer wants to meet with is the National Sports Authority, so discussions can be held to find ways to host revenue-generating sporting events at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

However, the dialogue between other entities have been promising thus far.

“The Ministry of Tourism’s Sports Tourism Unit works in close partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Bahamas Olympic Committee and local sports federations,” he said.  “This partnership includes efforts by the Ministry of Tourism to use its influence with industry partners to secure the best possible airline and hotel rates to maximize tourist attendance at sports events held in the islands of The Bahamas.”

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