Bennett excited at prospects as Jamaica uses golf's potential to drive sports tourism product

By November 07, 2023
Canadian golfers share a photo opportunity at the Sandals Golf and Country Club. (Inset) Angella Bennett, Jamaica Tourist Board's Regional Director for Canada. Canadian golfers share a photo opportunity at the Sandals Golf and Country Club. (Inset) Angella Bennett, Jamaica Tourist Board's Regional Director for Canada.

Much has been said about Jamaica’s sports tourism product, especially as those in the tourism industry continues to tap into the potential of golf to attract visitors to the island.

This, as according to the International Association of Golfing Tour Operators (IAGTO), the global golf tourism market, where people take trips with the main purpose of playing the sport, is valued over US$17 billion.

Additionally, it is said that an estimated 56 million people play golf worldwide, most of whom are in the United States and Canada alone, making North America the leading market in terms of the sport contribution to that economy.

It is with that in mind that Angela Bennett, Jamaica Tourist Board’s Regional Director for Canada is of the view that the recently-concluded Baxter Media-sponsored Sandals Canadian Travel Advisors Golf Tournament, is testament to what can be achieved through the sport.

The 27th edition of the two-day tournament attracted 61 travel advisors, who beyond basking in the fun, frolic and excitement, will ensure that Jamaica’s golfing and, by extension, sports tourism stock in North America continues to rise.

“This is a major achievement for us because golf is a big volume driver for earnings for Jamaica. It also targets a specific sport because we have so many golf courses in Jamaica, in Montego Bay alone, we have almost six golf courses and then there is the picturesque Sandals Golf and Country club among others in this region. From the tournament, we had our top producing tour operators like Air Canada, WestJet, Red Tag, they're all focused on selling sports tourism like golf,” Bennett said.

“So, to have them here for a week, there's a lot of networking going on, a lot of business and new airline partners coming in. This is another focus area for us to drive that sort of niche market to Jamaica and it's really a sport that encourages a long stay because these travellers usually like to golf around,” she added.

Bennett pointed out that the longstanding partnership between Sandals and Baxter Media in hosting the travel advisors tournament, serves as a springboard on which the JTB is aiming to launch strategies to drive more growth in Jamaica’s sports tourism product.

“We are known for sports in Jamaica, of course, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and all the other wonderful athletes, so it encourages us to build packages around golfing and promoting the sport, not only golf but all the other sports in Jamaica and this is a significant part of our strategy,” she shared.

“So, we have basketball that we do every year in Montego Bay, and we bring down some of our international stars to engage with the local talent. We also have Reggae Marathon in Negril where we're bringing down runners from Canada and across the world and while here, they experience the different offerings that Jamaica has in the sports field,” Bennett noted.

To that end, she pointed to the importance of capitalizing on the country’s sporting brand, particularly where the likes of Bolt, Fraser-Pryce and other sporting stalwarts are concerned.

“We always go where our athletes are, and sometimes we build a whole strategy around our athletes because just the way we know Bob Marley and everywhere in the world you go, they know Bob Marley, they know Usain Bolt and they know all our other track star because we shine, and we are at a superior level in this field. So, we're always looking to build a strategy around them to create a lot of awareness for Jamaica through them and through the work they're doing internationally,” Bennett ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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