“Sports tourism is much bigger than sports events or tourism”, so says Tourism Officer Andrew Welch of Trinidad and Tobago. Welch made the disclosure at the third Sports Tourism forum held at the Guyana Olympic Association, Liliendaal today.
According to Welch, Guyana is the new frontier for sport tourism. However, he cautioned, in order to capitalise on this opportunity, the government must prepare its citizens by including them in every aspect which also includes training.
“For tourism to work, we have to train the citizens. If we do not train the citizens, the us and them syndrome kicks in. If we do not train children about tourism, we will have challenges; then is we train the children and not talk to the adults, you are simply hitting your head against a wall. Then training the adults and not taking it further to the full community; again, you are hitting your head against a wall” Welch said.
He also pointed out that the crafters of sport tourism packages must be aware of the fact that sportsmen and women who attract fans, often cannot tour the country because of time constraints resulting from their busy schedules. He also noted that persons do not visit a country exclusively for the sporting event and that it is crucial to have packages available to capitalise by making communities a part of the event.
Director General of the Guyana Tourism Authority, Donald Sinclair made a pitch to local sporting associations to plan ahead in order to take advantage of upcoming events.
“The whole idea is that we can create a sports tourism calendar but what makes that task difficult is last minute planning on the part of some sports associations. Come November 2018 you must know what is going to be happening in 2020. That tells us you are forward-looking in your vision” Sinclair stated.
Garfield Wilshire of the Guyana Olympic Association said that the forum comes at an opportune time since Guyana is currently set to host the first ever stand-alone Women’s World T20 Cricket. He noted that such events have a direct impact on the economy from spending done by foreigners.
The forum was held under the theme ‘Growth Points in Sports Tourism: Challenges and Solutions. It also forms part of the calendar events for Tourism Awareness Month.