Stakeholders explore importance of sport tourism

…focus on return from COVID-19 pandemic

A spirited discussion involving stakeholders at different levels on Tuesday afternoon highlighted and explore the needs, ideas and challenges, especially in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, surrounding Guyana’s sports tourism industry.
This discussion was held to commemorate Guyana’s Tourism Month, celebrated in November. In a virtual panel discussion, the esteemed panel of speakers, comprising Tourism Director General Donald Sinclair; Hero Caribbean Premier League’s (CPL) Cricket Operations Director, Michael Hall; Guyana Olympic Association’s (GOA’s) Assistant Treasurer Tricia Fiedtkou; Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde, and Guyana Golf Association (GGA) President Aleem Hussain, gave on the Zoom platform a variety of perspectives on how Guyana can succeed.
Director General Donald Sinclair spoke on behalf of the Minister of Tourism, THAG, and the Guyana Tourism Authority. He welcomed the participants and emphasised the importance of Tourism Awareness Month and its activities.
Hero CPL Cricket Operations Director Michael Hall provided great insight into the operation of the game of cricket on an international level. He spoke about the challenges faced by teams, players and countries hosting events, and the associated expenses relative to compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
More specifically, Hall, who played a great role in hosting of the 2020 Hero CPL under COVID-19 guidelines in a bio-secure bubble in Trinidad and Tobago, had much to share about how Guyana could be able to go forward with hosting sports during the coronavirus pandemic.
While stating that it is possible for Guyana to host CPL in a similar situation should the pandemic continue to grip the world, Hall also warned that it is impossible for sport to see a restart in Guyana if it entails athletes returning home to their families before going back to the playing grounds. Sport should be conducted in a bio- secure environment, he cautioned.
Ms. Fiedtkou, of the GOA, related that her organisation is focused on building the brand of the country literally on the backs of athletes, using advertisement on uniforms and having our stars act as spokespeople for the country’s attractions.
She noted that next year’s Olympic Games would play an instrumental role in this branding, and that reciprocation of exposure from international athletes/ teams is another avenue to get Guyana on the map.
Head of GFF, President Wayne Forde, explained that the challenges of a contact sport have severely affected the manner in which they operate in the current COVID-19 guidelines.
“It’s virtually impossible to conduct an activity in the circumstances we face today,” he bemoaned.
President of the Guyana Golf Association, Aleem Hussain, explored how virtual sports tourism can change the way we address and promote travel, generate revenues, and increase tourism awareness.
Hussain spoke about using major sports that attract the most attention to generate online viewers at a low access cost, and sharing the gross revenues with the lesser known sports.
“We have to get less dependent on handouts, and see sports tourism as a business that gives our sponsors a greater return on investment through revenue share, greater advertising reach, future sales, and brand awareness.” He offered.
He emphasised that only by working together can all sports organisations benefit, and suggested that we create a sport management agency that would stage grand viewer events to put Guyana on the world stage.
DG Sinclair thanked the speakers, and said it was the start of great ideas that he felt could propel the country into a leadership role in a very short time.