The government's push for a bigger slice of the lucrative sports tourism market got a much needed boost recently when the Montego Bay Convention Centre was confirmed to host the fifth staging of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Cup, which will be staged from August 26-30, 2014.
Jamaica in general, and Montego Bay, in particular, is, therefore, well positioned to benefit directly from hosting this prestigious tournament, and the city's mayor, Glendon Harris, has given it his blessing, telling Western Focus that the attention it will generate for the city will be priceless.
"Sports tourism has the potential to really take off in Jamaica and we are happy that our city of Montego Bay has been chosen to host this Taekwon-Do World Cup. It will once again bring the world's spotlight on the city, which is the island's leading tourist destination," said Harris.
The mayor, who has been leading the call for more sports-related activities of an international calibre to be staged in Montego Bay, told Western Focus that he hoped the importance of the championships was not lost on the minds of the average man.
"We are hosting this event at a time when Jamaica's name is already huge internationally, but as a city, we, the whole population, need to get behind the event as this will be an important thing for Montego Bay, which continues to grow at a rapid pace," the mayor reasoned.
The ITF is expected to pump more than $3 million into the host city during the one week of activities, and the mayor believes it could add potency to the city's legitimacy as Jamaica's leading sports tourism destination.
There may not be an immediate financial windfall from staging the event, however, as the hefty cost to host it prompted the chief local organiser, Jason McKay, to tell journalists recently that the Taekwon-Do Association is hoping to break even - at best.
past hosting events
Already, Montego Bay has hosted a number of top-class golf tournaments, the last of which was the LIME Jamaica Open and is also home to Red Stripe Premier League club Montego Bay United (formerly Seba United). The city also hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup Qualifiers in 2011.
Meanwhile, a former member of the Jamaica Combined Martial Arts team, Shiahh Shukura, who now runs the Red Dragon Martial Arts Academy on Barnett Street, Montego Bay, and who represented Jamaica in the sport from 2006-2010, believes the time is right to bring tae kwon do to the people.
"I think it's at the right time. Tae kwon do is not a well-known and respected sport, but with Montego Bay hosting this championship, it means that many more people will see what it's all about".
"Millions can be earned from this, especially if we can make sure it returns to Jamaica to bolster our emergence in sports tourism," said Shukura.