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Sports tourism key to JLP manifesto

Published:Friday | February 26, 2016 | 2:00 AMElton Tucker
An aerial view of the National Stadium on March 26, 2015, the third day of the 2015 ISSA/ GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships.

Sports tourism, the building of new facilities and renovation of existing ones will be high on the agenda of the new administration.

With the strong belief that Jamaica is perfectly placed, especially with its proximity to the North American market, increased efforts are expected to be made to woo athletes to the island, especially during the winter months.

In its election manifesto, the Jamaica Labour Party promised to "intensity efforts to establish an extensive sports tourism programme that will, among other things, provide discounted prices to athletes that wish to use our facilities (especially during their winter season)".

To meet current and future demand the new government said, in its manifesto, that local sports training facilities "should be equipped to meet international standards and include gymnasium, swimming pool, indoor halls, cycling velodrome, squash courts, hockey fields (grass and synthetic, athletic tracks - cinder and synthetic) and outdoor courts such as in tennis."

With the National Stadium cycle track not meeting international standards, the country could be presented with plans to build a cycling velodrome to facilitate not only local riders, but top cyclists from the United States and Canada.

"Jamaica has more than 1,600 sporting facilities ... These facilities need to be rehabilitated. Other facilities should be built," the manifesto said.

There are also plans to increase the numbers and to improve the efficiency of local sports professionals to make them more marketable worldwide.

"We will enhance greater partnership between the government and our local sporting bodies to enhance training and certification of our local coaches ... not only to meet local, but also international standards that would deem them qualified/certified to ply their trade across the globe," the new government's manifesto said.

The upgrade of sports professionals will not be limited to coaches - the expanded training will also cover sports physicians, physiotherapists, sports medicine physicians, sports nutritionists and sports administrators.

The new government is also planning to promote more research in sports sciences.

"The days of relying solely on raw-born talent is a thing of the past," its manifesto said. With the many advances in approaches, the manifesto said, strategies will be developed to improve the overall health of the country's citizens and this will be done in consultation with the ministry of health.