The Adrian Loveridge Column – Sports Tourism Marks the Spot!
One of the most creative ‘tools’ we have available to help increase arrivals and occupancy during the slower summer months is through the hosting of special events including attracting sporting tournaments. One such event is the upcoming Mitsubishi Electric Rugby Barbados World 7S contest, set to take place in Kensington Oval on the 8th and 9th December. A quoted 32 teams from around the world comprising of men and women will engage during these two days. Or as their own website far better describes it, ‘a weekend of high-octane rugby offering one of the best party experiences for spectators and set in a glorious sun drenched exotic location in December’.
But of course, the real benefit to a destination is that many of the team players will bring their friends, relatives and supporters and when you add all these, we can look forward to a substantial number of new visitors to our shores with a high possibility of attracting future returnees. For a large proportion of them, it will probably be their first visit to Barbados with some using it as their main annual holiday, extending their stay, way past the duration of the competition.
So our hotels and other various lodging options will particularly benefit, with the majority of the attendees probably opting for our smaller more affordable accommodation sector offerings. Some will hire cars and they all have to eat, so there is another opportunity for our restaurants, plus more secondary benefit from those patronising attractions, activities, shopping and all the other potential economic benefits. Those perspicacious tourism operators might even consider offering special rates to all those participating, to drive direct bookings and avoid paying huge commissions to third parties.
Any event like this needs a dedicated and often voluntary cache of dedicated organisers in the background to ensure its success and an absolute prerequisite is to secure financial sponsors who can help offset, what are usually considerable mounting costs and especially in this case, provide substantial prize monies. Not surprisingly then is the support of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Tourism Development Corporation and a number of our tourism private sector partners.
Our own contribution to this particular event is to provide every participant and attendee a special branded voucher at no cost to the organisers. This will give them access to a competitively priced three course dinner and a 10 per cent discount off 40 partner restaurants across the island.
The reason is simple!
The more we can collectively enhance the event in terms of delivering value-for-money, the chance increases that they will return to the destination with a similar contest during another year.
So to recap!
Increased arrival numbers helping to protect existing or new airlift, higher room occupancy (especially during shoulder periods), more business for our car rental companies, restaurants, activities and attractions. And lest we all forget, increased tax revenue through non-refundable VAT, airport departure taxes and alike, for Government to help reduce our national debt.
Sounds like a win-win to me.