Rolle excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for The Bahamas
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Sep 27, 2013
The new director of sports tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Greg Rolle, has put in place a comprehensive sports package designed to turn The Bahamas into a “sporting mecca” for all disciplines, whether it is amateur or professional sporting events.
Rolle realizes that there are limited facilities in the country, but said the goal in the Ministry of Tourism, which is headed by Minister Obie Wilchcombe, is to show sporting organizations that every island is unique and different in its own way. It was revealed that the ministry is looking to host sporting events like canoeing and rowing in the coming years.
“One of the things that we are doing, especially in the smaller Family Islands that have a lot of natural elements, is try and utilize those islands,” said Rolle. “The Bahamas is known for having beautiful water, so there are a lot of things that we can do like rowing, canoeing and kayaking. Yes, we are going to the Family Islands to drive a lot of the sporting organizations there, places like Long Island, Abaco, Eleuthera and even Grand Bahama that have such long, nice roads. Why can’t we have cycling events there? A lot of the natural beauties that we have, we are going to utilize those amenities to drive the tourism sports business to The Bahamas.
“Again, the world needs to know about us. Do they know about us? No they don’t. This is why we are doing the global part of it, to get the word out there. We want the phones to be ringing off the hook in the tourism office in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere. We need people calling and saying I want to come to The Bahamas. We have the literature about all of the islands. There is a comprehensive sports package that we hand out. We are building a comprehensive sports package where every island will be self-sufficient.”
Rolle calls the Miami Heat training session, which will take place next week over at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, a “slam dunk”. He said this latest venture is the first of many.
Rolle added: “What we try to do is, we try to match the sports with the facilities that we have now. Next week, we have Miami Heat coming down. Atlantis has a very large grand ballroom that can stage an arena. Those are the kind of elements that we are going to use until we have the investors to come in. We especially invite Bahamian investors to come and invest in facilities in The Bahamas. We have an outstanding golf course, so we are going to utilize those things that we have at our disposal right now. Down the road, we are going to develop other facilities in The Bahamas.
“It won’t be New Providence centric. The Bahamas is known for glitz and glamor, that’s the tourism component. We are now getting to that level in sports tourism. The country is not a hard sell, but what people want is to see that you have a plan. When you go to have a dialogue with different sporting entities, what comes out of your mouth is very critical. If they realize that you don’t have a plan, a portfolio stating exactly what you want to do and how you plan on doing it, then it will not happen.
“I’ve put a comprehensive plan in place that invites people to want and partner with The Bahamas, be a part of one of the islands in The Bahamas. We want to do something that is bold and hard-hitting so we did a co-branding initiative along with the business development side. We want the Miami Heat to drive the business to The Bahamas. We spelt it out, not leaving any stones unturned. When we went to them, we had an aggressive plan that included some bold initiatives in order to get things done. From that perspective, we went ahead and moved in that direction to make sure that everything was adhered to. One thing led to the next and now we have the Miami Heat coming to town.”
Rolle said he spent about six to eight months doing the necessary research and putting a plan in place, before approaching the Miami Heat. He said The Bahamas is an easy sell and has been viewed as the pacesetter for many years.