Barbados is moving to maximize its earnings from sports tourism, a niche that has been growing in importance in the changing global tourism industry. For years the destination has benefited from the exposure and spending directly associated with organized events in cricket, hockey, tennis, golf, swimming, surfing, bridge, running and other sports.
However, efforts to enhance local sports-tourism marketing are moving in a new direction with the formal embrace of Sports-Tourism Ambassadors by the Barbados Tourism Authority, (BTA).
This also coincides with the new product club concept, adopted by the newly created National Marketing Committee, which sees committee members taking responsibility for certain niches. Among these niches are golf and diving, two activities that have been increasingly drawing visitors to these shores.
So far two of the island’s best known athletes on the international circuit, top cyclist Barry Forde and Olympic bronze medalist Obadele Thompson, have been formally adopted as Sports Tourism Ambassadors with the objective of promoting Barbados
in overseas markets.
This latest development also supplements the efforts of the country’s first official sports tourism ambassador - Sir Gary Sobers, known around the globe for his cricketing exploits.
At different times, the services of test cricketers such as Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Joel Garner and the late Malcolm Marshall were utilized by the BTA in promoting Barbados. In recent times, Sir Gary has also been heavily involved in golf as a host for tournaments and a national player in several regional competitions.
As part of the sports tourism ambassadors program, both Forde and Thompson are being outfitted with full promotional kits - including caps, polo shirts, T-shirts, banners and literature about the destination.
“We are fortunate to have such internationally recognized sportsmen to help us spread the word about Barbados…their accomplishments and personalities are a good fit for the role of ambassadors,” said Stetson Babb, the BTA’s Senior Vice President. “We intend to support them fully and we want to ensure that when they travel they are properly branded as Barbados’ own.”