Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Sport tourism not affected by crime

Published:Friday | February 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Beach volleyball action in Ocho Rios. Three international volleyball tournaments will be hosted on the island this year.
Powell
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Despite the recent increase in violent deaths across the country, various local sports administrators say that they do not believe that crime has had a significant effect on sport tourism or the ability of their sporting associations to attract foreigners to the island for competitions.

Jamaica Volleyball Associa-tion (JAVA) president Rudolph Speid said that three international volleyball tournaments will be hosted on the island this year. One of these will be at the Ocho Rios Bay Beach in St Ann and the others at venues that have not yet been decided, but Speid said that one of the three will be an indoor tournament to be played in Kingston.

He told The Gleaner that crime has never been a worry when planning the staging of these competitions and it would not this year, despite its recent increase across the island.

"We don't find any problems with hosting these tournaments because in volleyball, once you say 'Jamaica' everybody wants to come," Speid said. "Our main problem is really the cost, not the crime."

The Jamaica International Badminton Championships is one tournament held over the last two years in Kingston that has brought athletes and spectators to the island from across the world. Jamaica Badminton Association General Secretary Antonio Bell said that like the previous two years, the body has no fears about hosting this year's event at the National Indoor Sports Centre in March.

"We take it (crime) into consideration, but it doesn't impact our plans directly," Bell said. "Just like when travelling anywhere in the world, we advise our visitors to be aware and alert. We have ensured, nonetheless, the required security is at the international tournaments we host."

Bell agrees with Speid that Jamaica's reputation for tourism is a big enough pull to attract foreigners for local tournaments.

"Rio was hyped as a hotbed of crime, but people still poured in (for the 2016 Summer Olympics). If people want to come, nothing will stop them."

OFFICIAL FIGURES

Montego Bay United Football Club president Orville Powell said that although he could not say whether crime was keeping foreign sports fans away from Montego Bay, as he did not have official figures, he believed that it affects turnout at local games.

"There must be people that want to come to games but stay at home because of curfews in their areas," Powell said. "Sometimes you may find disorder and disturbances in the stadium that may be a deterrent to persons as well, but other than that, I really can't say."

The Montego Bay Sports Complex will host Group C of the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship later this month, and Powell said he haDalready met with the Montego Bay police about ensuring that the venue WILL BE properly secured for the games.