At the World Travel Market (WTM), Johnson Johnrose, Communications Specialist for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, had the chance to talk with Pamela Hiles, Director of Sporting Barbados, which has launched a new site at this year’s WTM. She speaks with Mr. Johnson about why sports tourism is an important niche for the Caribbean.
JOHNSON JOHNROSE: So you’ve just launched your new Sporting Barbados web site. Tell us about it.
PAMELA HILES: That’s correct; we’ve had the web site; we’ve been doing the magazine, Sporting Barbados, for 15 years. It’s had a web site, but now we’ve completely revamped the web site to make it user friendly. Anyone wanting to come to Barbados on a sports tourism vacation, they can access the web site, they can see what there is to do in Barbados, they can read the magazine – they completely turn all the pages and read it, and they can see where to stay, what to do, and a million different reasons why you should choose Barbados for your sporting or leisure vacation.
JOHNROSE: So you’ve had your published magazine you said for several years now?
HILES: Yes, over 15 years; this is our 15th editon.
JOHNROSE: What’s online – is that what’s going to be in the magazine as well?
HILES: No, it is kind of an electronic arm, but it doesn’t duplicate the magazine. The magazine is on it; you can read it. But it has little extra things, a more immediacy. It also has a news section so that you will know the results – say the Barbados … Cup, the … Regatta – all the big international events that happen in Barbados, we will be able to have up-to-the-minute reports on them and people can get more immediate… The magazine is an annual publication, which goes into villas and hotel rooms. This is a much more immediate thing that complements the magazine.
JOHNROSE: And goes into every laptop, computer?
HILES: Correct, around the world.
JOHNROSE: Why did you choose to launch it here at World Travel Market?
HILES: Every year we launch the magazine here. We’re the first kind of annual Barbadian magazine to come out. So it was kind of a natural thing to launch the web site here as well, and the minister kindly agreed to that for us, so, and also it’s coming into the winter season in December, so it’s kind of a natural time to do it, you know.
JOHNROSE: You’re doing the sporting magazine – you clearly believe that there’s a place for sports tourism in Barbados?
HILES: Absolutely, look at this stand, I mean sports tourism is massive. You only have to have big events like the World Cup, cricket, or whatever in Barbados to see that, but it doesn’t have to be a big event. Someone can be coming for diving, someone can be coming to play golf. They can be schools playing in the cigar fields, schools, youth tournaments, cricket, there is all kinds of things. Swimming, university teams come to our pool to train in the winter, because, of course, it’s too cold where they are.
JOHNROSE: They come from Canada as well?
HILES: Yes, a lot, and from the States as well.
JOHNROSE: From the US as well.
HILES: We have a plethora of things that would attract people in Barbados beyond sun, sea, and sand, that makes it much more exciting to come to, and you can come and watch the sport, and if the wife or the husband is not into sport, then there’s many things for them to do to keep them occupied.
JOHNROSE: You’ve mentioned quite a few of the things that are happening. What needs to be done to make sports tourism an even more important component and valuable to Barbados in your case, but the rest of the Caribbean?
HILES: Well, everything with this recession, more money needs to be spent on a lot of things. A lot of the facilities could do with some upgrading in Barbados. We have nice facilities, some of them are a bit tired. Honestly, we have a hockey festival, we have a hockey pitch which wouldn’t be used this year, because the ground needed to be resurfaced. So upgrading the actual facilities, which are happening slowly, but they are happening – that kind of thing, better organization and better promotion of the island – things like these, and things like what Petra is doing, aligning with people in England, the Chelsea football club and the cricket clubs that she’s captured, I believe that she’s aligning with here, those kinds of things that get into the sporty type people and hopefully will pay off in the long run.