A Sports Tourism Implementation Committee (STIC), which will support and complement the work of the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism, has been set up to convert the vast potential of sport tourism into practical initiatives.
Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, in making the announcement recently, described the initiative as a positive indication of the possibilities of sports tourism as the country moves to implement more tangible elements while developing a policy in tandem with the Ministry of Sports.
"For our tourism sector to develop in the long term, we must diversify our market segments and in order to do this we need to attract and sustain new segments such as sports tourism by providing a wider range of offerings in our product portfolio," McNeill told attendees at the launch of the Jamaica Soccer Cup Tournament held at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.
The committee is chaired by Chris Dehring, chairman of telecommunications company LIME and former managing director and CEO of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
The minister said the mandate of the committee is to identify and work with both local and overseas interests to create sports-focused events and activities.
"It is to effectively exploit the athletic dominance of Jamaica, which was highlighted at the recent London Olympics and in the process actualise sporting opportunities for Jamaica's tourism industry," the minister said.
In outlining the rationale behind the committee's formation, Minister McNeill explained that an expansion of the tourism market is what is desired.
He noted that, "The potential for developing sports tourism as a viable market segment in Jamaica is tremendous. In the aftermath of Jamaica's dominance in track and field at the recent London Olympics, now is the time to harness this potential."
Other members of STIC are Howard McIntosh, chairman of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) technical committee who was recently appointed development officer for the CONCACAF region of FIFA; Zachary Harding; Carole Beckford, president of the Business of Sports and publicist for track star Usain Bolt; Michael Hall, CEO of the West Indies Players' Association; hotelier Jason Henzell of BREDS Treasure Beach Foundation — operators of the 17-acre integrated multi-purpose sports park in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth; and Basil Smith, senior communications strategist at the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and former director of tourism.