Wed | Oct 28, 2020

Local martial arts can aid sports tourism - McKay

Published:Sunday | September 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Taekwon-Do Centre’s Nicholas Dusard (left) and England’s Leon Thompson battle in an intense match in the men’s 18-35 Semi-Contact 71kg division of the recently concluded International Sports Kickboxing Association Amateur Members’ Association World Championships at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

JASON McKay, promoter of the recent International Sports Kickboxing Association (ISKA) Amateur Members' Association World Championships at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, has hailed the event as a success for sports tourism and wants the Government to see it as a model to boost off-season arrivals to Jamaica.

Holder of the ISKA franchise in Jamaica, McKay had similarly promoted the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup at the same venue in 2014, bringing an international martial arts world tournament to the Caribbean for the first time.

The September 10-15 ISKA Amateur Members' Association World Championships was well supported, especially by Britain and the United States, both teams dwarfing hosts Jamaica. Britain, in particular, had 167 competitors, and the United States, 60, joining martial artists from elsewhere in Europe.

"I hope this wakes up the Government for them to realise this is the answer for our dead periods in the tourist season. It is not for me to seek them out to have dialogue. I cannot and do not benefit from this. It is hotels, airlines, transport operators, venues, and the economy that benefit from the consumption at every level,"

With the athletes' village at Holiday Inn and competitors staying in the island with their respective entourages for almost a week, McKay said it is high time that Government takes heed as both tournaments went past potential and were proven realities.

The 2014 ITF World Cup had also enjoyed immense support from the United States, Europe, South and Central America and the Caribbean, attracting hundreds of officials and competitors travelling with family and coaches to Montego Bay.

"If they didn't know, they do now. I've shown them twice. It is time to develop a strategy and make it happen," he said after the recent ISKA tournament, at which Jamaica mined 98 medals - 24 gold, 28 silver and 46 bronze.