Miami Heat visit a ‘slam dunk’ for sports tourism
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Sep 26, 2013
The Bahamas is expected to receive a major economic boost in the area of sports tourism as it welcomes two-time defending NBA champions the Miami Heat next week.
The visit by the top basketball team is anticipated to translate into an additional 200 room nights sold next week alone.
Recognizing that the country has lost shares in the Florida and New York markets, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said hosting the high-profile athletes provides the perfect opportunity for The Bahamas to regain momentum in those areas.
“We want to prove that The Bahamas is the premiere warm weather destination again. We have to reach out and cause for new business to come to The Bahamas. Sports tourism is big,” he told reporters yesterday.
“You’re talking about some of the best athletes in the world and they are going to contribute significantly to the image of The Bahamas, particularly when you consider what is going on around the world, with the competition that’s out there.”
The Miami Heat organization announced this week that it will conduct its two-day pre-season training camp at Atlantis resort. It is reportedly the first time the team is training outside of the United States.
Wilchcombe confirmed that the ministry is investing approximately $110,000 as part of its marketing strategy for the event. He believes it is major events like these that will raise the country’s profile.
“It’s all a part of building a year-round tourism industry. We believe that The Bahamas can benefit more during the months of August, September, October, November and December, but we have to do things that are extraordinary. This is considered to be a slow time but right now we’re talking about a week of business,” he said.
Tourism officials have also estimated that next week’s event will translate into a minimum 200 room nights. Atlantis’ President and Managing Director George Markantonis called the event significant and noted that it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I think it’s significant for Nassau and The Bahamas to be hosting the Miami Heat for this training session. Obviously they are one of the biggest professional sporting brands right now and this visit is a 100 percent by-product of the very successful NCAA Battle 4 Atlantis tournament that we host every Thanksgiving. We are very fortunate that we invested in that facility years ago when we started our college basketball program,” he said to Guardian Business yesterday.
“We are delighted to have them. They have a lot of fans and there will be a lot of publicity surrounding their presence in The Bahamas. For us, it is also a good time for us to host sporting teams and bring them to Nassau because the occupancies tend to be lower in the fall. There are a lot of our neighbors in Florida that we would love to see here in Nassau.”
The team will be in Nassau on Monday morning. A number of events have been planned for them while in town. The training camp takes place October 1-3.