Jamaica looking to tap into golf tourism
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett

As Jamaica looks to revitalise and tap into the potential of golf tourism, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has stated that the sport provides the opportunity to bolster arrivals and earnings for the nation as Jamaica rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global golf tourism market, where people take trips with the main purpose of playing the sport, is valued at over US$17 billion, according to the International Association of Golfing Tour Operators.

In addition, an estimated 56 million people play golf worldwide, of whom 26.7 million are in the United States alone, which is the leading market in terms of the sport contributing over US$60 billion to the nation’s economy.

Bartlett indicated that golf is part of the higher value offerings of the industry’s experience, adding that the sport can attract visitors to the island to boost the tourism industry and economy.

He also noted that Jamaica was once a renowned golfing destination globally and is steadily being re-established.

As such, the government, as well as local and international stakeholders, are working towards securing the tourism sector’s full recovery.

“We want to recover back with golf; and so we welcome you, travel advisors, for golfing,” he said.

“You have flown all the way from the different parts of the United States to be here to start that process of ensuring that recovery is happening.”

“[Also], I want to say how very happy we are, in Jamaica, for the partnership we have had with you over the period and for the confidence that you continue to repose in us,” he added.

In the interim, the government has been collaborating with stakeholders such as Sandals Resorts International, with the aim of targeting what is considered to be the largest sports-related travel market.

Recently, Sandals hosted 166 travel advisors from across the US at its 18th annual USA Travel Advisor Golf Tournament at the organisation’s Golf and Country Club in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

It was the event’s first staging since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-day tournament comprised teams playing in a four-member scramble, putting their skills to the test, and competing in various activities throughout the tournament.

National manager of golf sales for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Jake Coldiron, cited that the idea behind the event was to allow travel advisors to experience golfing in Jamaica, so that they can go back and sell to the market.

He said it also aimed to further strengthen and build awareness of the island’s expanding golf tourism brand.

“I think golfing in Jamaica is kind of like a hidden gem,” he said.

“When most people think of golfing in the Caribbean, yes, Jamaica is kind of up there, near the top. But I truly believe, now, we need to expand. I believe Jamaica is going to be on the map [for] golf,” he underscored.

- JIS

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