By Frank Martin
TTC Service.- Sports and especially those that attract crowds are increasingly important for international tourism.
The Caribbean region has managed to place field tennis tournaments and a great variety of marine sports at the top of their offerings, all boosting tourist arrivals all year round.
Therefore, the Caribbean islands do not stop prioritizing this modality that some call Sports Tourism.
Last week the head of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar says sports can be a catalyst for Guyana’s tourism sector development.
Guyana was announced as maiden hosts of the Caribbean Junior Cycling Championships, Ramkumar said.
Regional experts said mega and small scale sport tourism has the potential to contribute to the social, cultural, economic and infrastructural development of the host country or city.
They added that sport tourism involves the travel of persons for non-business reasons to participate and or observe sporting activities (Hall, 1992).
Football, cricket, and rugby are considered mega-sports.
Small scale sporting events include triathlons, marathons and a leg of the formula one grand prix.
Also may include bungee jumping stations, zip line canopy tours, hiking trails, water adventures such snorkeling and, of course, golf.
Caribbean ountries as Dominican Republic and Cuba already have important golf offers such as the Dominican case, or plan expansions of that sport specialty, such as Cuba.
The second edition of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in Dominican Republic from March was an exclusive 18-hole course with miles of natural cliffs and majestic coralina quarries.
With 26 golf courses to choose from, the Dominican Republic is rapidly becoming the premier golf destination of the Caribbean.
Experts see a great future for golf in Cuba, which has a positive history in that sport, very attractive for tourists. A great part of that future rest in a megaproject predicted to cost over 1.2 billion U.S. dollars.
The joint venture, Punta Colorada S.A., comprised of the state-owned Cubagolf and the Spanish group La Playa Golf & Resorts, is responsible for this ambitious project aimed at stimulating the Cuban tourism industry.
The construction work will cover 700 hectares and will result in 1,250 rooms distributed across three hotels, and more than 1,700 villas, apartments and bungalows.
In addition, there will be a marina with a capacity of 300 boats, and two 18-hole golf courses, one of which will have a hole in the sea.
Punta Colorada will also see the construction of a high performance sports center that will allow athletes to come and train in various sports such as soccer, tennis, baseball and sailing.
Sport tourism provides the host country with high media coverage that also provide important information about the country’s cultural and entertainment locations as well as an overall country profile.
Global Sport Tourism is estimated at 480 Billion USD. 6.4 billion in the Caribbean region.
The sports-related travel market generates 97.7 million room nights annually, worldwide.