WTO Highlights Tourism and Sport


Only a few weeks ago, our athletes shone on the world stage at the Olympic Games, bringing more recognition, honour and fame to the already powerful, ‘Brand Jamaica’, a tourism product that remains a major catalyst for economic growth in the country.
It is befitting that the World Tourism Organization (WTO) has chosen the theme: ‘Sport and Tourism: two living forces for mutual understanding, culture and the development of society’, for this year’s observation of World Tourism Day on Monday, September 27.
The WTO maintains that sport and tourism share common goals: building bridges of understanding between different cultures, lifestyles and traditions; promoting peace and goodwill among nations; motivating and inspiring young people; and providing entertainment and enjoyment to relieve the pressures of daily life to large sections of the population.
Both are powerful forces for development, stimulating investments in infrastructure projects, such as airports, roads, stadiums, sporting complexes, hotels and restaurants. These can be enjoyed by the local population, as well as visitors who come to use them. Industry and Tourism Minister, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba says the observation of the Day offers an opportunity to have the entire country focus on tourism and its contribution to national development.
“It is important that persons who are not necessarily working directly in the tourism sector understand the role that the sector plays in the economic life and development of the country,” she explains.
According to the Minister, the tourism industry currently employs one in every four persons, whether directly or indirectly, through the linkages with other sectors, including manufacturing and agriculture.
Minister Assamba says the focus on sport and tourism for 2004 allows the sector to acknowledge sportsmen and women who have brought fame to the country.
“The fact that we were in almost every final in track and field at the last Olympics is important, because our name was always in the forefront as a country, and people come to Jamaica to enjoy the sports that we play, golfing in particular. We are a great golfing destination. Sometimes we don’t play that up as much as we should,” she says.
She notes that the Ministry is placing increased emphasis on preparing and positioning Jamaica as the destination of choice for golfers from all over the world.
The Minister points out that the three new “signature” golf courses slated for the North Coast in the Harmony Cove development will offer an unparalleled vacation experience, bringing to 14 the number of “world class courses that grace our beautiful island”.
Mrs. Assamba says local interest in golf has “taken off” in recent years, and that the Jamaica Golf Association’s opening of the Golf Academy, with government support, has done much to stimulate interest in the sport.
Earlier this year, some of the world’s leading senior golfers competed in the prestigious Digicel Jamaica Classic Golf Tournament at the Half Moon Golf Resort in Montego Bay.
“The staging of this prestigious international tournament, with all the excitement it generates, helps to attract more of our people to the game, while enticing more visitors to come to Jamaica to enjoy their game,” the Minister says.
Pointing to cricket and football, she notes that these are also major drawing cards for tourists all over the world.
“Whenever there is a football or cricket match, whether international or Caribbean, people come to Jamaica for the sport, but also to take advantage of the other things that we offer,” she notes.
“We have opportunities to look further into developing sports and tourism, and to invite people to come in and play,” the Minister adds.
She cites the development of the Green Field site in Trelawny for World Cup Cricket 2007, as an important step toward the sport and tourism thrust.
Recently, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) announced its intention to brand all world cup football-qualifying matches.
According to Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook, “the JTB has long recognized the value of sport in tourism marketing. Over the years, we have supported a wide range of sporting activities, which promote and celebrate the spirit of Jamaica, epitomized in our sportsmen and women”.
In this way, the JTB is intent on having “destination Jamaica” visible across all television screens, even the buses on which they travel overseas will be branded “Jamaica”.
Given Jamaica’s close proximity to the United States, Minister Assamba has her sights set on developing baseball and football facilities on the island that could attract teams during their off season, for practice training, and to enjoy the tourism product.In recent years, Jamaica has had the privilege of hosting the World Junior Championships, the World Netball Championships, as well as the Special Olympics.
The WTO believes that sport and tourism are activities that bring people together and help forge strong partnerships. In this way, they are making the world a smaller place – contributing to greater understanding among cultures, greater tolerance and, ultimately, to world peace.
It is in this framework that the WTO and the International Olympic Committee began their co-operation in 1999 to strengthen links between tourism and sport, and have since supported numerous initiatives in this field at the national and international levels.
September 27 was chosen to coincide with an important milestone in world tourism, the anniversary of the adoption of the WTO Statutes in 1970.

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