Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Jamaica should push sports tourism – Beckford

Published:Tuesday | June 6, 2023 | 1:12 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Carole Beckford
Carole Beckford

If you watched the recent Bermuda leg of the American Track League on NBC and wondered why Jamaica hadn’t hosted such an event, you’re not alone. Sharing similar thoughts is sport marketer Carole Beckford, who thinks Jamaica can do more to attract sports tourists.

Olympic champions Steven Gardiner and Jasmin Camacho-Quinn were on display in Bermuda and Beckford is convinced that sports tourists would come to Jamaica to watch action of that calibre, and to experience the other attractions the country has to offer.

“So Montego Bay is perfect. We have a venue down there that we’re unable to use in the way we would like and so Kingston becomes that centre which doesn’t have quite the allure for that kind of market. Kingston, however, is the entertainment capital, you know. There is something about Kingston we can use to market around major events like track and field or even football, and it would be more of a party situation, as opposed to a relaxed thing in Montego Bay, which is more the tourist capital,” she said on May 29.

Beckford, who has served as the president of the local volleyball federation, Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO) film commissioner and as communications chief at the West Indies Cricket Board, understands the travelling sports fan.

“They tend to eat out more. They tend to want to party. They stay out longer so their spend is always going to be greater,” she outlined.

A 2020 valuation of the global sports tourism market size placed it at US$323,420.0 million. It is projected to grow to US$1,803,704.0 million by 2030.

“Some of the things I think that we would like to explore, putting in calendar events each quarter where the focus is not just sports but the other parts of Jamaica,” she recommended.

“They experience Jamaica through sports, but here it is, you’re in Montego Bay, you can go up to the Cockpit Country, you can do this and so on and those are the kinds of things that sport tourists do. They are great adventurers,” she underlined, “so outside of the event they have come to watch, they are the ones who want to try the things within the area.”

She is crystal clear that our sporting venues need attention. “We can’t have the kind of product we have as a sporting nation and not have proper venues, and there are private partners, relationships that we can explore through JAMPRO and the Special Economic Zone Authority that gives us the opportunity to do these things properly,” Beckford itemised.

She reckons that JAMPRO has a central role to play.

“When we did the World Cup Cricket in 2007, there was a unit in JAMPRO which would have looked at the legacy, under what is called a Major Events Attraction programme. JAMPRO is the best placed organisation to undertake that in association with the Special Economic Zone,” she suggested.