ITF World Cup to 'expose, expand Jamaica'
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA's hosting of the August 26-30 International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup was yesterday described by Damion Crawford, minister of state in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, as "exposing and expanding Jamaica from being seen as a destination of sun, sand and sea".
Crawford was guest speaker at the launch of ITF World Cup Jamaica 2014. He said Jamaica's historic staging of the ITF World Cup would assist the Ministry of Tourism in positioning the island as a sports-tourism locale and diversified "more for more" destination.
The ITF World Cup, now in its fifth staging, was first held in Orlando 2004 and never returned to the hemisphere until Jamaica Taekwondo Association won the 2014 bid.
"Few people know that the Chinese, unlike Americans, don't like tans," Crawford pointed out to bemused response from a gathering of sponsors, organisers and martial artists at Jamaica 2014 press launch at Courtleigh Hotel, St Andrew.
"To the American, a tan is a status symbol, you're able to afford a vacation, but to the Chinese that means you work in the rice fields," Crawford explained in citing the importance of diversifying Jamaica's tourism product by offering alternatives to sun, sand and sea.
"The Government is pleased to have this competition in Jamaica and owes a debt of gratitude to the pioneers. Had you not been performing as you were, we would not have been considered," he said in reference to Jamaica's martial artists, who have been excelling on international stages the world over, culminating in Kenneth Edwards being the first Jamaican to qualify for the Olympics, London 2012.
Jamaica 2014 has, so far, registered more than 1,300 participants, the bulk of which are overseas entries, Jason McKay, chairman of the local organising committee, pointed out.
"All the participants bar five per cent are from overseas and paying their monies to compete. All the judges, bar Joleen Masters, are from overseas and paying their monies to come here to officiate," said McKay.
"It will be Jamaica on show, live for the world to see as there will be live streaming, every day, on websites of all ITF affiliates and anybody, anywhere in the world, will be able to go online to view this stream," he added.
Jason Hall, deputy director, tourism, said the Jamaica Tourist Board was extremely proud to be associated with ITF World Cup, "a global event".
"We're always keen to support anything that brings tourists to our shores. There is little doubt about the significance of this event as it will be filling rooms, providing food services and retail shopping," he said.
McKay urged Jamaicans to support the tournament which kicks off August 27 with coloured belts before black belts bow in on the 28th and 29th, culminating with team events on the 30th.
"There is a season pass for $2,500, but It's only $500 for entry, every day, the gala night, Friday, which starts at 7 p.m. and will feature finals, with an entertainment package of KipRich and Mr Vegas, will cost $1,000.
"I-Octane is booked for opening-ceremony night, August 27," McKay stated, adding that accommodation sponsors Hilton Rose Hall, Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort and Riu Hotels and Resorts all have attractive room packages for the tournament.