Director of Tourism says international basketball tourney holds incalculable potential

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Friday, November 23, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Last weekend, which saw three major sporting events in Montego Bay, is a glimpse of what sports tourism can become in the country, says Director of Tourism Donovan White.

The region hosted the second Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Montego Bay Convention Centre Friday through Sunday, the Reggae Boyz played Suriname in a Concacaf Nations League game at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Saturday, while the 11th staging of the Annie's Revenge golf event was held at the Cinnamon Hills course in Rose Hall.

“This weekend has been a phenomenal experience of what sports marketing could look like and should look like,” White told the Jamaica Observer on Sunday on the final day of the basketball event.

“With the Reggae Boyz playing Suriname here in Montego Bay, we have eight NCAA basketball teams playing in the Jamaica Classic and we had the Annie's revenge golf tournament which is in its 11th year, it really has been a fantastic weekend of just showing how well endowed we are in terms of our sporting capabilities, not just in cricket, football and track and field, but how well we are in terms of assets to deliver sports as a product, so we want to continue to believe in that,” White added.

The basketball tournament is in its second year of an initial five-year deal, and White said: “We feel that there are some things we are going to do with the organisers to augment the relationship and make it stronger, so we can leverage together all the opportunities both here and abroad.

“We want to continue building that and we want to continue to invest through the Linkages Council, as well as the JTB (Jamaica Tourist Board) marketing tools to ensure that we continue to stimulate the markets to bring people here for sporting events like these.”

The event that was broadcast live by the American network CBS Sports was seen in 60 million households and delivered 16 hours of basketball between Friday and Sunday.

“We could not pay for that... its invaluable, we could not afford to pay for that that level of positive publicity, it's a weekend experience — Reggae Boyz being streamed to the world, Annie's Revenge had Michigan Golf channel here filming for two 30-minute segments to be aired across the USA later... the type of publicity that enabled as a result of staging these tournaments is invaluable,” noted White.

The potential for the Jersey Mike's event to Jamaica is incalculable, White said.

“The truth is, this tournament in particular, we love the idea of it and we think it has the a phenomenal amount of potential simply because of the strength of basketball as a product in the US and we want to tap into that market some more and if we continue to build it as we have been doing,” he reasoned.

The number of people who came this year doubled the figure from last year, and the potential is there for sustained growth.

“I heard some names of some teams that may come here next year and I am excited, really excited,” White said.

“A part of what we have to do as part of the development is to build out the marketing locally so that we can get the Jamaican people excited and get them to come out and support the teams as well, so as we build it, we bring more Jamaicans here, we also get the Jamaican people involved, so everybody can begin to believe that this is big business,” he concluded.

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