KINGSTON — Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the sport of golf has the potential to enhance Jamaica's reputation as a top class sports destination.
Speaking at the media launch of this year's 48th staging of the Jamaica Golf Association's (JGA) Jamaica Open tournament, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on November 1, Ms. Grange said the Ministry and the Government recognise the potential which golf has to enhance efforts to build the country’s strategic major events and sports thrust.
"I believe that we have a competitive advantage in golf. It is no secret that we have some of the best golf courses in the world. But, importantly as well, we have the facilities and the people to support the hosting of international golf tournaments in Jamaica," she said
The Minister noted that golf tournaments, such as the prestigious Jamaica Open, continue to be high quality sporting events that attract excellent golfers to Jamaica annually. Pointing to the role which the administration has played in the development of the Jamaica Open, she said the input, specifically of the Ministry, and the Ministry of Tourism, has helped to enhance its quality over the years.
"I believe in the power and value of sports. It brings people together and is a source of personal enjoyment and fulfillment. It helps to raise national pride and international profile. It helps us to maintain healthy lifestyles and it offers significant potential for economic activity. We want to make Jamaica the best destination for sports, the place where champions come to play, and the place where the fans come to see them play," Ms. Grange said.
She added that the Ministry has been endeavouring to fill Jamaica’s sports calendar with high quality events, by being facilitators of many meets and tournaments, including the Jamaica Open, pointing out that “the world has been noticing."
"At the recent 2011 World Tourism Awards, Jamaica not only won the prizes for the Caribbean’s leading destination and the Caribbean’s leading beach destination, but also won the inaugural award for the Caribbean’s leading sports tourism destination, and Half Moon Hotel, as Jamaica’s Best Golf Resort,” the Minister reported.
The Montego Bay-based Half Moon Hotel has staged the Jamaica Open on seven occasions, including the last four years.
"We recognise that golf has the potential to enhance the building of our strategic major events and sports tourism thrust. I believe that we have a competitive advantage in golf. It is no secret that we have some of the best golf courses in the world. So, I am making the pitch to the professional tournament organisers who are looking for new venues, come to Jamaica, we are open for business," the Minister said
President of the JGA and Jamaica Open Tournament Chairman, Wayne Chai Chong, said over 70 local and overseas golfers are slated to participate in the four-day event, which offers prizes totalling some US$85,000.
The tournament kicks off on November 30 with the amateurs taking the field on that day. Thereafter, between December 1 and 3, the professionals will vie for top honours.
This year’s tournament is being sponsored by LIME, RBC Royal Bank, Half Moon Hotel, Jamaica Tourist Board, Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, and CB Foods.
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter