Calling sports fans from abroad
ON THE BOUNDARY Tony Becca
Friday, January 11, 2013 will be a big day for sport in Jamaica, and it is not because it is the day when Jamaica will crown the best Jamaicans, men and women, in sport for 2012, but it is all because Jamaica will be inviting people from all over the world to come and see how Jamaicans treat their stars.
And they will be coming to see more than that: they will be coming to admire Jamaica's natural beauty, to enjoy Jamaica's hospitality, and they will be coming to see where Jamaicans, in the words of Ms Nicola Madden-Greig, live, work, and play.
The visitors, Jamaica's guests for the weekend, will be coming to The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, one of Jamaica's most celebrated hotels, not only to see the pearl of the Caribbean, and not only to mingle with its people, but also to see some of the finest athletes and one of the greatest runners the world has ever produced.
They will be seeing, among others, Usain Bolt, 9.58 over the 100 metres and 19.19 over the 200 metres, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, winner of two Olympic 100 metres finals, Veronica Campbell-Brown, winner of two Olympic 200 metres finals, Yohan Blake, winner of silver medals in the Olympic 100 and 200 metres races, and Marlon Samuels and Stafanie Taylor, batsman and batswoman extraordinaire.
And they will see more than that, taste more than the rum and the Red Stripe beer, the jerk pork and the curried goat, and possibly laze in the cool, clear water and in the warm, bright sun shine.
TREATED LIKE ROYALTY
For US$303 per person double occupancy, for four lovely days and three starry nights, they will be entertained like princes and princesses.
Apart from tickets to the awards ceremony, they will be treated to round-trip airport transfers, VIP check-in, welcome drinks, and daily buffet breakfast, guided tours of RJR studios, Bob Marley Museum, Racer's Track Club - home of the fastest man on earth, autograph sessions, and a visit to Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records and to Courtney Walsh's Cuddy'z.
That is wonderful, and all that was announced by Ms Madden-Greig at the press conference to launch the RJR Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Award for 2012 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Monday morning, and before a happy and jubilant gathering.
The president of the Kingston Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, and the director of sales and marketing at The Courtleigh, Ms Madden-Greig, said that the idea was to bring more people to Jamaica, to showcase how Jamaicans celebrate their own, and also to remind the world of Jamaica's greatness.
There is more to it than that, however.
Four gold medals, four silver medals, and four bronze medals at this year's London Olympic Games was a record haul for Jamaica, as master of ceremonies, Patrick Anderson, reminded those who needed to be reminded, and Jamaicans are proud of it, so proud that Jamaica needs to tell everybody.
Jamaica also needs to make some money from it.
It was one more medal than the last take in Beijing in 2008, and although we will want to make it more next time around, although it may be more next time around, it may be less, even a little less than we would like.
So far, however, so good, in terms of making sure that something good comes out of Jamaica's great achievements.
Some news reaching us are that Ms Carrole Guntley, director general in the Ministry of Tourism, and Chris Samuda of the Jamaica Paralympic Association have been pushing for the union of sport and tourism and that they are succeeding in their efforts.
Although it seems to be taking shape, to be coming along quietly, the question is: Why has it taken so long?
It has been years now that Jamaica has been producing stars in sport. It all started from the days of George Headley and Alfred Valentine, Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden, and Les Laing, Don Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, and Grace Jackson, and many others.
It has been 30 or 40 years now that people in the society have been talking about merging sport and tourism in a way to help Jamaica and Jamaicans, and it is good to know that the sportsman and sportswoman of the year awards ceremony is being used to attract more visitors to Jamaica.
SPEEDING UP DEVELOPMENT
Sport and tourism, sport's involvement with tourism, tourism's involvement with sport needs to be speeded up.
If more of this is done, if sport, for example, is used to bring more people to Jamaica, more money will come into Jamaica, and if more money comes into Jamaica, if that money is used wisely, the people of Jamaica, all the people of Jamaica, the sports of the nation, the sportsmen and the sportswomen of Jamaica, will be better off.
And so too, among other important things, will be the facilities, the equipment, the grounds, and the manpower.
Thank you, Ms Nicola Madden-Greig, and all who contributed to this. You have given Jamaica something else - apart from the great sportsmen and the sportswomen of the year - to look forward to in January, and maybe, hopefully, for the rest of the year and all those years to come, Usain Bolt or no Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce or no Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.