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Island gets tourism boost from ball hockey

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A major ball hockey tournament has given a $1 million boost to the economy, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday.

Tourism chiefs said the World Masters Ball Hockey Championships had accounted for 1,200 room nights booked at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club brought hundreds of athletes and spectators to the island.

Jamahl Simmons, the tourism minister, praised the Bermuda Ball Hockey Association.

He added the association “rose to the challenge” to bring the championships to Bermuda and also created a suitable rink as a venue for games.

George Gortsos, the president of the International Street and Ball Hockey Association, said: “The BBHA built this rink on their own, and without it we would not have the platform to do what we've done. It's a rink of dreams.”

Mr Gortsos, a five-time world champion player, highlighted the event's power to attract visitors

He said: “There have been folks here for up to seven days before this event.

“People's families came early, so there will be people here for ten, 11 or 12 days.”

Mr Gortsos said the visitors were also keen to increase the sport's popularity on the island.

He added that the Masters event would begin “a lasting partnership” between the sport and the island.

Tom Miller, the director of the BBHA, said the island's team of 24 had three Bermudian members.

Mr Miller added: “We never thought we could do it here. George said, ‘why not?'. ”

Kevin Dallas, the chief executive of the BTA, said that the championships also delivered extra value in social media exposure for the island.

He added: “It sounds like we have 600 new promoters for Bermuda.”

The BTA has targeted the off-season months for improvement and sports tourism has been a major feature of its marketing since 2015.

Pat Phillip-Fairn, the BTA's chief product and experiences development officer, said the championships marked “another way for Bermuda to demonstrate that we're able to host wonderful sports events in the fall through the winter”.

Mr Simmons said the Government was “keen on ensuring Bermuda is a feasible and logistically accessible destination for sporting tourism”, from schools and universities to professional teams.

The rink at Pembroke Community Club was opened in 2012 and part-funded by cash raised in memory of the late Tom MacNeil, a former Bermuda In-line Hockey Association president who died in 2008.

Success story: the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Jamahl Simmons, BTA chief executive Kevin Dallas, George Gortsos, the president of the International Street and Ball Hockey Association, Pat Phillip-Fairn of the BTA, and players Tom Miller and Hazel Clark come together under one banner to launch the World Masters Ball Hockey Championships (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Greece take on Portugal in some of yesterday's early action at the World Masters Ball Hockey Championship/ The Greeks won 8-1 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 27, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 27, 2018 at 9:48 am)

Island gets tourism boost from ball hockey

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