By Noelle Smith
Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Sports, Dr. George Norton said yesterday that Sports Tourism has the potential to contribute to the economic, cultural and social and infrastructural development of the country.
He made the remarks at the second Sports Tourism Planning Session
held by the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Business in collaboration with the National Sports Commission (NSC) at the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) headquarters at Liliandaal yesterday.
According to Dr. Norton, the vision of the ministry is get athletes, officials and supporters to come to Guyana not only to compete, but also to experience the rich culture and tourism of the country.
Yesterday’s session was the second of its kind after the inaugural Sports Tourism Workshop held in April of this year.
Under the theme ‘The Next Steps’, the organisers aim is to move forward after the initial session in April.
It was noted that after the April event a few of the sporting disciplines had taken part in activities which had used some of the ideas raised at that forum.
The idea of Sports Tourism is centered on the idea of travel related to sport.
According to Donald Sinclair, Director General of Tourism, “This could speak to a variety of standards. The players (athletes) are the basic ingredient. Those who come to play the sport, regardless of sport. The coaches, other officials and other services.”
Sinclair added that the influence of the people who travel to the country are what boosts tourism.
The importance of sports tourism was also highlighted including the task of spreading the sports disciplines across the country rather than having them in one general area.
The impact of Sports Tourism on the Caribbean islands and countries around the world was also noticed.
Culture is deemed a major aspect of a country that is explored by sports tourism including the food, music and the infrastructure.
Sinclair noted “bids to host the World Cup and Olympics is a major thing.
“Countries celebrate when they find out that they are going to get these events because it means that it is a means of enhancing their country. Sports Tourism leads to development of new infrastructure including stadia and other sporting venues,” he added.
The importance of efficient planning and development of sport and sport management was stressed on by Minister Norton.
Though highlighting his satisfaction that it was the second session of its kind, he stated that between each sessions there would be events/ activities to implement what was discussed in the sessions.
“These forums are important as they are there to set goals and objectives of what you would like to achieve. It is important to note that the stakeholders and those within the various sporting association work together. You cannot go out on a limb, be isolated or an island,” Dr. Norton declared.
A major theme of the day was planning. The ‘how to’ in respect to getting sports events hosted with the least hiccups. Dr. Norton spoke about the need to organize events in a way that when the visitors return to their homes they could encourage their friends and families to visit.
“As long as persons have a good time they will want to come back and it will not only make them want to return but will encourage them to bring their families and friends too. It is for this reason, we have to remember that the ‘domino effect’ matters to us in this industry,” he said.
In order to progress with the sports tourism of the country successfully, the audience was encouraged to participate in an activity to develop standard operation procedures. This task was aimed at getting an understanding of how to organize sporting events.
The Ministry of Social Cohesion plans using Sports Tourism as a way to develop Guyana. The benefits for the country, athletes and youth are seen and it is their aim, along with the Department of Tourism and National Sports Commission to utilize these benefits of Sports Tourism.