Motorsports to get Gov't boost

By Rory Daley
Observer writer

Friday, March 29, 2019

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JAMAICA'S Government has pledged to assist motorsports sector in order for it to attract international racers to our shores. The announcement was made at a send off for five rally teams at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.

“While I'm pleased to support team Jamaica as they go off to compete in Trinidad (and Tobago), I'm anxious to see more motor racing events hosted here. We have the facilities at JamWest and Dover. We now have to develop the framework to make it even more attractive for motor racers from across the region and the world to want to come here to compete. That is why I'll be advocating for the waving of the fees associated with exporting and importing the vehicles,” said Denzil Thorpe, permanent secretary — Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

JamWest Speedway is located in Westmoreland, while Dover Raceway is located in St Ann.

Thorpe was speaking on behalf of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia “Babsy” Grange.

With the Peter Rae-led 'Reggae Racers' providing logistics on the ground in Trinidad for the Jamaicans, the ministry showed its support to the effort by covering the wharf and brokerage fees at a value of $1.2 million.

The contingent comprises Kyle Gregg, Marcia Dawes, Timothy Stewart, Stephen Gunter, Joel Jackson, Dimitri Dawkins, Lee Vaz, Andrew Graham, Bobby Marshall and Michelle Laidlaw.

The initiative comes as part of the Vision 2030 as Grange sees sports tourism, and by extension motorsports, as a potential socio-economic generator.

While Thorpe explained there cannot be a time-line put on the initiative as it involves other ministries and government revenue sources the goal is to show all the parties that whatever monies are given up in allowing the free passage of motorsports vehicles in and out of Jamaica, that it is recovered in significance elsewhere in the economy.

“We have embarked on a partnership with the commonwealth secretariat to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for sport. This includes applying sports specific indicators to measure the value of sport to our economy as well as to benefit our citizens directly and indirectly at the social level,” he said.

In Thorpe's presentation, he said the minister was fully aware of the associated costs and its impact on overseas competitors, indicating that there were other states taking advantage of similar policy, low or no fees in relation to motorsports, to boost their own sports tourism product making them more attractive to visit than Jamaica.

Lawrence Henriques, organiser of Rally Jamaica, was pointed out that Rally Jamaica scrapped competing in the the North America and Central America (NACAM) Rally Championship due to high duties.

“Using the current tourism figures that each visitor spends an average of US$175 each day they're here. Then you add the fact that a rally crew is two drivers, their mechanics, family and sometimes even friends, there's a lot of money there,” he said.

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