The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. is gearing up for a packed sporting events programme this year, beginning with the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race series next week.
The BTMI has designated 2017 the Year of Sports Tourism, and its manager for sports, Devon Chase, told Barbados TODAY that the Mount Gay regatta is expected to be as exciting as last year’s.
“Last year we were privileged to have had the team Concise rebranded Miss Barbados, and as a result of that we also had another competing boat, Phaedo 3, and combined it was an exciting finish . . . . We expect that this year will be equally exciting and we really look forward to welcoming them again,” Chase said.
According to him, 33 boats have so far registered for the event, which is now into its 81st year.
“We cannot overlook the impact this race series has had on the island to date as it has arguably been one of the major catalysts in announcing Barbados to the world as a desirable yachting and sailing destination, the fruits of which we have seen manifested in the hosting of the Fireball Worlds Championship and the GP14 Sailing Championships to just mention a few,” he said.
This year the BTMI will be hosting four new sporting events, namely the OK Dinghy World Championships 2017 and the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival in May; the Finn Masters World Championship 2017 in June, and the stand-up paddling competition, the Dragon World Championship, in October.
The Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival was first staged in 1984 with the first event featuring a number of former Test players, and 17 games on the Auckland Domain. It is held every two years at venues selected by the Golden Oldies Cricket players and their partners.
Thirty overseas teams have registered to date for the May 7-14 event, and the BTMI estimates over 600 visitors, including sailors, friends and families will attend. A further ten local teams are also registered to compete.
The Dragon World Championships, meanwhile, is the first dedicated paddleboard team racing competition, and the finals will be held in Carlisle Bay from October 28-30.
“There are going to be a series of events all across the world . . . and the winners will be coming to the island to compete in the finale in October this year, so that’s another exciting thing we have planned,” Chase stated.
He noted that while sports tourism is not new to Barbados, officials were looking to capitalise on the growing interest in sporting events being hosted here.
“Following the completion our sports tourism plan last year, a number of key sporting activities were identified – these on the basis of their ability to increase visitor arrivals and yield a higher return on investment.
“It was felt that these activities would blend harmoniously with the destination given the infrastructure and resources currently available and that ultimately they would contribute to our objective as it related to establishing Barbados as the number one sporting destination in the Caribbean region,” Chase said.