Work together to maximise sports tourism benefits - McNeill
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill has charged tourism and sports stakeholders to work together to maximise the potential of sports tourism and its benefits to Jamaica. He stated that "given the strength of Brand Jamaica and our prominence in sports there is no limit to the success we can achieve if we come together".
McNeill was addressing the stakeholders at a JAMAICA Sport workshop held on June 25 at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston. The workshop introduced two models for evaluating the economic impact of sports events, Jamaica STEAM (Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model) and Media PRO.
"The value of sports tourism is said to be over US$600 billion internationally. Given Jamaica's prominence in sport and the strength of our brand, we have to ensure we can get a slice of this pie," said McNeill.
He pointed out that sports tourism affects the host country in two ways, the direct effect of attendance of competitors, spectators and other accompanying persons and the indirect effect that comes from marketing the destination.
As an example of the power of sports as a marketing tool, McNeill cited the successful Jamaica House concept, an initiative that leverages the global focus on the Jamaican track and field team at major sporting events to market Destination Jamaica.
Continuous visitor increase
To underscore his point, McNeill noted, "Prior to 2012, we had experienced four consecutive years of negative growth in visitor arrivals out of the UK (United Kingdom). In 2012, we hosted Jamaica House at the London Olympics.
"In 2013, we saw the positive impact in an increase in arrivals; in 2014, arrivals increased by 17.5 per cent, and since the start of 2015, we have had a 27 per cent increase in arrivals out of the UK."
He emphasised that while not the sole reason for increases out of this market, the concept played a significant role in boosting arrivals.
The minister welcomed the introduction of Jamaica STEAM, which will project and measure the economic impact of both sports and entertainment; and Media PRO, which will measure the media value and reach of these events.
"We want to ensure there is an empirical mechanism to ensure the sports events have maximum impact on tourism given our financial constraints," said McNeill. He encouraged all sports organisations to embrace the use of these evaluation models to measure their events for various purposes including sponsorship.
The sport evaluation workshop was conducted by Anthony Fisher from the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance and Derek Mager from Canada's Data Jungle, who have a proven record in both fields.
JAMAICA Sport chairman, Chris Dehring described the models as "tried, tested and true" and said that in a very competitive environment it is important to professionalise sports investment and properly assess how the money is being spent.
JAMAICA Sport is a multi-sectoral body established in 2014 to examine the commercial opportunities provided by sports tourism; leverage Brand Jamaica and sporting events held locally and internationally to ensure that Jamaica maximises marketing and promotional opportunities while encouraging additional visitors to our shores.