Minister Bartlett was speaking at the media launch of the second staging of the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament held earlier this week at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.
He noted that while the island has hosted several major sporting events “it is the building of infrastructure that will enable mega events to come to us. It is not going to take off until we have the infrastructure in place to facilitate these events”.
“In making that investment possible, it will enable us to market better and to be more precise in our marketing and never second-guess the integrity of the experience that we sell,” he added.
“These mega sporting events help to highlight the importance of our destination and to cause more people to want to experience that which we provide,” the Minister noted further.
He argued that with big-league sporting activities dominating the cultural experience worldwide, there is much to be gained from tapping into this market.
He said that the country’s reputation for outstanding sporting performance should be capitalised on as it is a significant attraction.
“Most of the people who come to Jamaica today recognise the sporting prowess of Jamaica, whether it is through Usain Bolt or the Reggae Boyz’s achievements,” he pointed out.
The Minister welcomed the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic, which will be held from November 16 to 18 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James.
The basketball tournament will feature eight colleges from the United States of America (USA). All games will be televised across the USA during prime time on CBS Sports as well as streamed on the Internet.
Participating institutions are Georgetown University, University of South Florida, Loyola Marymount University, Ohio University, Central Connecticut State University, Austin Peay State University, Campbell University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University.
Minister Bartlett said that such events will help to attract more visitors to the island.
“People travel to fulfil their passions, and sport is a powerful passion. It is the second largest driver of tourism traffic in the western world. Sport, next to food, is the biggest driving factor in tourism. The economic value of sports is equally strong, and Jamaica can grow with it. We can enhance our product quality by it, but more importantly, we can build the character of our people through it,” he said.
The event is sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB); the Ministry of Culture, Gender Entertainment and Sport; and the Montego Bay Convention Centre, among others.
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