The introduction of sports tourism as a major industry in Guyana is an excellent idea, but there are a number of challenges which would need to be addressed if the concept is to be successful. This is the opinion of Technical Facilitator to the Education Ministry, Vincent Alexander.A large crowd at one of the Amazon Warriors games in GuyanaThe Education Ministry official made this statement during brief remarks he made at the inaugural workshop on Developing Sports Tourism, which was held under the theme “Improving Sports through Tourism; growing Tourism through Sports”.“Do we have facilities that in fact can be provided for sports tourism, (which) include certain standards that can market the country? Do we have the kind of human resources that ensure that you can properly organise and manage those activities?” Alexander questioned. The industry will also be challenged by the capacity of sport organisations to become involved, he added.Alexander explained that the areas highlighted — described as critical to the sports tourism industry — would need to be addressed immediately if we are to move forward.He explained that apart from sport, there are other resources within the country that can attract tourism, and he expressed hope that those resources would be highlighted for the betterment of the country.Meanwhile, in a courtesy call made on Business Minister Dominic Gaskin on Friday, St Lucia-based Sports Consultant Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira noted that the sports tourism industry needs major private sector input and support from sports associations and other stakeholders.Although Caribbean countries which are involved in the sports tourism industry have become successful, Perreira explained, it would take some time for Guyana to experience that success, especially since there is much need for promotion via the media to help in the process of attracting persons to the country.The sports consultant expressed gratitude for the co-operation he has been given, and the hope that an internal sports tourism industry can also be realised.Minister Gaskin labelled sports tourism a viable and sustainable component of Guyana’s overall tourism product, and added that it has a contribution to make towards the nation’s development. “We understand that tourism has to be developed from the ground up; and those involved have to understand that they are participating in something that has an economic value and has a contribution to make to our economy,” the minister explained.He noted that sports should not be seen only as competition, but as having the potential to bring persons to Guyana.This workshop was a collaborative effort between the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Business; the National Sports Commission in the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport (NSC); and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA).CPL and local economyMeanwhile, Guyana, through the Caribbean Premier League has benefited significantly from sport tourism since the inception of the tournament, with some US$17 million being pumped into the economy last year.CPL’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), Pete Russell, during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times had explained that the games’ economic impact locally has been both direct and indirect. He said assessment reports compiled by CPL showed that our economy received close to US$17 million last season.Russell explained that the net sum is calculated by looking at the influx of tourists to the country, hotel bookings, vending during the games, and the overall spending of persons during this period.With the Guyana Amazon Warriors success at CPL, Guyana has over the past four years benefited from some US$80M from the tournament.In fact, some US$90 million was poured into the entire Caribbean region in 2016 as a result of the CPL tournaments.
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