Barbados’ sports tourism niche is reaping success for the island as a destination, and this country’s Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy is promising more developments in this area.
He gave that vote of confidence in the island’s tourism product while participating in the Cabinet Diaspora discussion on the final day of the Barbados Network Consultation 2014 – Third Diaspora Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday.
Acknowledging that the tendency was to appeal to tourists in the older demographic and project Barbados as a leisure destination, Sealy said that much had been done to change that concept through the development of niche areas.
“The sports tourism niche is quite active in Barbados with over 60 disciplines of sports being practised here…and the sports tourism fusion has worked extremely well for us, and we think that we have only just begun.
“Traditionally, cricket, golf, team hockey and master’s football have worked well, but we are also talking to some of the other sporting disciplines. So, I think the sports tourism fusion is huge and its connection with community tourism would obviously appeal to a younger demographic,” he underlined.
The tourism minister said the decision to make Barbados “the motors sports mecca” of the Caribbean, coupled with the further expansion of the Bushy Park facility, would “take sports tourism to another level”.
Turning his attention to festivals, Sealy said beyond Crop Over, the island had a legitimate gospel festival, a very popular reggae festival, the Holders Season and the Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival.
He said the latter festival, now in its fifth year, was poised to become one of the most significant festivals of Barbados.
“The patrons, the foodies and the participants are convinced that we are on to something very special here, and we will continue to develop that. So, I think that the festivals and the sports tourism fusion are all aimed at diversifying our product offerings, [moving] away from this idea that we are simply a leisure spot for those who are in the evening years of their lives,” he emphasised.