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.


  • As Mr. Loveridge said…sounds like a “win-win” situation but do we really lend all the support that he identified across the spectrum of our government & tourism industry?

    Obviously the high profile sponsored events enjoy the wider support but there are many ‘smaller’ sports on our island that have been contributing to our economy over the years that are starved for support and media exposure.

    Does the BTMI, or any other entity, keep a list of all the sports-tourism events taking part during the year on our island? If yes, where can we access this information??

    Do they keep a track of the number of visitors each event attracted to our island, where they stayed, & for how long??

    I have noticed some smaller sports associations hosting international events, year after year, with little recognition or acknowledgement from the sports-tourism authorities. Many have to personally ‘sneak in’ items as simple as medals for their competitions to avoid the heavy taxes & levies our so-called sports-tourism minded government applies.

    We situations where teams selected to represent our country on the international arena, fly out dressed in their normal clothes…. not national team uniforms ….. because the taxes & duties to bring in the uniforms push the costs too high so instead these teams get their uniforms on arrival overseas.

    Let’s hope our ‘new’ Sports Minister will convince our ‘new’ administration to consider sports-tourism seriously ….. not mere lip-service…… but detailed analysis of this niche market with accompanying incentives to the local organisers and not just as a cash-cow!!


  • Not sure if it i a perception but has the then Bank’s Hockey Festival, Garfield Sobers cricket tournament and a few others fallen off in popularity?


  • Surprised the writer didn’t mention the international football tournament organized by locals and includes 48 teams this year, with many squads and friends making 30-50 members per team, having achieved success for around 20 years every Whitsun. Works well in conjunction with hotels and the brewery!


  • If you consider poker and craps a sport then I agree


  • Any domestic event/organization that will bring visitors to our island, should be given an incentive …. whether its sports or poker or craps ………….. the hotels get the incentives ….. why not others?


  • One of the issues rugby has faced in the past, and I am sure we are not alone, is the massive amounts of red tape and high duties and levies on equipment and kit. Last year, when the BRFU was considering a beach rugby tournament, including rental of the inflatable pitch which being transported free by sponsors DHL, I was informed that we would still have to pay duties and taxes on the value of the item, even though we were only renting it and it was not staying in Barbados permanently.

    Hopefully, the winds of change will blow away some of that red tape and backwards thinking and enable and empower sports tourism to grow.

    The BRFU has received excellent support from the BTMI, BHTA and BOA, and I hope this will continue and even spread. We have so much to offer, if only we can get out of our own way.


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