Sports is big business
THE TIME HAS COME for the Caribbean to embrace sports as a business and reap the enormous benefits to be had.
So says Carole Beckford, president of the Business of Sport, Jamaica, who strongly believes that for that to happen the region must come together and pool its resources.
Speaking at the Frank Collymore Hall, Central Bank, last Saturday night while delivering the feature address at the National Sport Council’s Annual Awards Ceremony, Beckford noted that Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean had more than enough sporting talent to be marketed.
“It is time for the Caribbean to make its move . . . the access to the US$632 billion global sporting industry is key at this time.
“The competing structures of sport in the other regions which are flourishing tremendously are proving more and more to be of a challenge to this region,” said Beckford, chief executive officer of Carole Beckford & Associates, a marketing, management and media planning company.
“Some of the greatest athletes in the world come from this region and we are continuing to produce outstanding athletes.”
With this in mind, the former publicist for Usain Bolt insisted that a collaborative effort was needed.
“Having acknowledged that the Caribbean continues to produce some of the world’s best, it is therefore time to add value,” said the veteran journalist of over 24 years’ experience.
“The just over six million population in the English-speaking Caribbean, while spread out over a few islands, is not enough to spin the economic wheels as much as we would like, so we have to be able to do a few things simultaneously.”
In pointing out that half a billion people lived in a four-hour flight radius to the Caribbean, Beckford maintained that sports tourism played a very important role.
She revealed that not only did sports tourism account for 14 per cent of the overall industry, but the “sports tourist” was proving to be among the top five biggest spenders.
Beckford suggested the need to promote the Caribbean as the ideal location for sport, while she also called on corporate Caribbean to invest in an industry that could offer the biggest return on investment for the next ten to 15 years.
She said that agencies such as the Caribbean Examinations Council, the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Community, Caribbean Export and the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery all had key roles to play in facilitating this new drive.
“We have to hold those organizations accountable for the deliveries they were designed for.
“Caribbean leaders have a glorious opportunity to adjust the traditional way of doing business to a more out-of-the-box way of inspiring, motivating and encouraging participatory leadership towards achieving tangible efforts for the sports industry,” she added.