BTA: sports tourism can be year-round
Sports teams and business groups could help Bermuda be an all-year-round destination, tourism authority experts said yesterday.
Simon Boden, the new sales manager at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said different types of visitors could boost numbers in the traditional off-season.
Mr Boden explained: “The teams and groups component of the Bermuda Tourism Plan is critical for seasonality opportunities.
“The group market is traditionally led by the hotels and I think it is now time to get more people involved in that experience whether through transportation, activity providers or someone who does events.
“The overall message is we would love more people to be involved in the whole process to make Bermuda more attractive.
“This is an opportunity for anyone offering products and services for groups to come out and find out what the plan is about.”
He was speaking as he and Hazel Clark, director of sports business development, prepared to deliver a joint presentation at the Bermuda Tourism Summit next Wednesday, designed to focus on the niche markets of sports and business and the opportunities they could bring to island businesses.
Ms Clark is a three-times Olympic track athlete and the daughter of Joe Louis Clark, a former principal at one of New Jersey’s toughest inner-city schools, who inspired the 1989 movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman.
She said: “There is so much opportunity when it comes to sports. The BTA has shown that with the World Triathlon Series, the America’s Cup and the ball hockey championships.
“I’ve had so many people reach out from our sporting community wanting to facilitate connections and extend their network.
“People understand the value in sports and that is very exciting and will help us to win.”
Mr Boden, who is in Las Vegas promoting the island to meeting planners, added: “I think one of the key markets will be corporate incentives.
“If a business has a sales goal that they achieved or overachieved, the top sales forces will be rewarded with a trip to Bermuda.”
He added: “The second main market is corporate meetings, which we are well equipped to provide. We are developing a unique selling point that is compelling to people outside.”
Ms Clark said: “We are open to continuing our success for sports that are a win but also those out-of-the-box sports and events that are unique and can be branded for Bermuda.
“The National Sports Centre is a great facility — it has everything you would need from an athlete’s perspective and they will be able to use that for training at no cost.
“You can see people’s eyes light up — it is very attractive and helps us to compete against other destinations.”
She added that island athletes would also benefit from the knowledge and experience of professional sportspeople who visited Bermuda.
Ms Clark said: “There are so many opportunities for locals. At the youth level it is very important to impact youth — sports opens doors, sports expands horizons.
“We will be able to expose our youth to these high-level sporting events. Leading track and field couple Will Claye and Queen Harrison will be visiting and we also have America record-holders, national champions and world medallists joining us.”
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