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Champs holds massive potential for sports tourism - stakeholders

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Annishka McDonald of Vere Technical clearing 1.64 metres to win the class four girls high jump at the National Stadium yesterday.
Marie Forbes of Vere Technical High winner of the Class Two girls discus with a best of 41.74 metres.
Supporters of Kingston College march along South Camp Road heading to the National Stadium to drum up support for their team yesterday.

The annual ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships, now in its 107th year, is a valuable part of the push towards a greater slice of the sports tourism market, declared tourism minister Edmund Bartlett.

Responding to questions on the value of the biggest sports spectacle of its kind in the western hemisphere, Bartlett said that Champs brings to the fore unique opportunities that have the potential to seriously impact the sector.

"Champs does bring tourist traffic into the city and does increase arrivals and it brings a level of economic activity into the city, so Champs is a very important traffic builder for tourism, as well as, it generates economic activity within Kingston," Bartlett reasoned.

"We see it as a valuable part of the tourism push, particularly because it brings what I call 'heads to beds'. It fills the rooms and it drives entertainment and transportation revenues, and it generally responds to the true reach of the tourism dollar in the economy," he added.

Sharing the minister's sentiments were two Kingston hoteliers in Glen Bromfield of the Medallion Hall Hotel and Altamont Court Hotel owner Chris Jarrett.

Bromfield said that Champs will always have an appeal beyond Jamaica's shore, adding that the diaspora plays an important role in spreading the word, which, in turn, redound to tourists coming in specifically for the event.

"Small hotels such as this one must cater to everybody, including local guests. It's a part of the whole and a very big part of everything concerning tourism-including sports," he said.

Bromfield said Champs is a great example of what sports tourism can achieve and that his hotel will play its part in promoting the next generation of Jamaican track and field stars.

... Champs has bought heads to beds in hotel sector

Chris Jarrett stated that his hotel continues to embrace the spirit of the championship and its relationship to the country's growing sports tourism market.

"Over the years, we have seen that sports, in general, and Champs, in particular, have brought heads to beds, and that is the ultimate aim for any hotel," Jarrett said.

According to Jarrett, Champs has the distinct possibility of bringing in hundreds of tourists, while providing millions of dollars in earnings all on its own with dedicated marketing of the track and field fiesta to the various overseas markets.

"It's the ideal platform to build greater relationships and linkages between our overseas industry partners and us in ways that will continue elevating Brand Jamaica," he noted.