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Jamaica Hopes to Become Centre for Sports Tourism

With the honourable example of the West Indies cricket team behind it, Jamaica and other West Indian islands have been popular among UK travellers taking cricket holidays to the region. Now, Jamaica wants to add another string to its bow – building on its success in the field of athletics to position Jamaica holidays as the ideal destination for international sports tourism.

Starting on February 2012, the first of a series of British school sports teams will be given tours of the island – the lucky students to take the first trip will be pupils of King Edwards School in Southampton.

The Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) will be pairing up with Virgin Atlantic to host the sporting tours throughout next year, due to the airline’s policy of allowing sports equipment in the hold for free.

The JTB has also announced that it plans to make its presence clearly felt during the London Olympics next year, setting up a Jamaica Village in Finsbury Park, between 3 August and 12 August, which will be serving delicious Jamaican food and produce, as well as promoting the island’s music and culture and its two most famous citizens – reggae legend Bob Marley and athletics champion Usain Bolt.

Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett declared that “visitors will be able to get a taste Jamaica in every form, including its people, so they can experience Jamaica before they even go.”

Another form of games has been opened up recently by the Jamaican government, Mr Bartlett revealed – the long-awaited reforms of regulations governing gambling have finally been passed, meaning that casino licences for the Palmyra in Montego Bay and Harmony Cove in Trelawny will be issued within the next fortnights, as well as a licence for one other unnamed casino.

However the minister went on to stress that Jamaica will avoid becoming “a casino destination”, because its regulations say that a casino can only comprise 20 per cent of an integrated holiday resort.