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New firm to enhance sports tourism product

10/3/2009

THE vision held by Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Ralph Taylor, for the comprehensive development of sports tourism in Barbados stands to be greatly assisted by the plans of one firm to make this island a world-renowned location for training and sports medicine.

Global Medical Group Inc., the company recently reported to have come onto the scene to provide clients abroad with world class medical treatment, combined with a relaxed environment for rehabilitation right here in Barbados, is looking to develop a number of sports tourism initiatives through its subsidiary Sports Health Travel Inc.

The company will be offering sports training for athletes from around the world, with physicians trained in sports medicine; nutritionists and personal trainers, all to be made part of its full-time staff. In light of the latter, the company is presently looking for personnel in these specialities.

The benefit of such a product offering comes from the fact that sports tourism offers year-round training and participation in events for athletes and, therefore, is a deviation away from the traditional tourists peaks and troughs cycle that is experienced yearly.

Speaking at a BTA media briefing last week, at which principals from Global Medical Group Inc., delivered a presentation outlining these plans, Taylor stated that sports tourism is a “misunderstood phenomenon” and argued that we in Barbados are not serious about it and are “playing around it”.

The Chairman argued, “Sports tourism is a low-hanging fruit,” stating that there are persons within the local landscape that possess considerable knowledge of the sports that they are involved in and have programmes running, which only need the proper support to enhance them.

As a result, he stated that the BTA has been in dialogue with all local sporting organisations, with a view of seeking to enhance their marketing efforts to increase related visitor arrivals.

He pointed to the example of polo, which he stated has many tournaments on the island that are reasonably well attended by locals, but are not marketed internationally to a level that he believes could bring greater benefit to Barbados and the economy.

He argued that this is the same for other sports, and that the BTA is willing to sit down and listen to proposals from these various organisations and use its marketing muscle – where it sees potential – to push such programmes overseas in the markets where we have a presence.

“We are willing to hear what they are doing, look at the kind of numbers that they are bringing, look at the opportunity that exists...and although the BTA does not have enough money to give to each sporting organisation on the ground to support every sport, what we are prepared to do is work hand-in-glove in trying to market the sport to help them to get the message into the marketplace, so that we can bring additional people either to the sport or as spectators to the island,” he said. (RH)

[Originally published: Friday October 2, 2009]

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