St Vincent and the Grenadines, for the next two months will be host to at least three major sporting events, namely Cricket West Indies Under-19 tournament, the Caribbean Area Squash Association’s (CASA) Junior Championships, and the return of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Tournament.
One cannot have asked for more in a time when our economy is feeling the pinch from the fall outs elsewhere, and we are barely keeping our heads above water.
Therefore, beyond the declaration of titles, accolades and ranking points, the biggest beneficiary has to be the coffers of the country.
A breakdown of the three events, would see that Cricket would bring in approximately 140 persons from the Leewards, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados and those from the Windward Islands grouping.
They are expected to be here for one month.
Meanwhile, Squash, which is set to commence July 15, with another 150, are expected in for the one week tournament. Players from Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Guyana are listed, joining their Vincentian counterparts.
In the case of Tennis, that tournament would easily feature another 100 persons descending on the countries from near and far.
It means that over the period July 2, to mid-August, St Vincent and the Grenadines would pay host to about 300 teenagers and another 100 adults, made up of coaches, parents, match officials and other logistics personnel.
During that month and a half, the visitors’ home will be the hotels; they will patronize the restaurants and other food and beverage outlets, utilise taxis, they will need laundry services, medical services, with some of the adults savouring some of the Vincentian night life.
Readily, sports tourism will be in full effect. St Vincent and the Grenadines, as the main components of that sector should capitalize on the influx of the visitors to the shores.
More so, whilst the commencement of the Cricket Tournament will coincide with the hectic Vincy Mas celebrations, the Squash tournament will dovetail into the national festival.
Thus, some hoteliers will experience a good taking, as they will be assured of a brief period of sustained patronage.
Whilst this column agrees that the three hosting are in no way a windfall, it shows what a lot a little can do.
Those with the policy makers tag, continue to slight the impact of sports on St Vincent and the Grenadines’ tourism product.
Unfortunately, these learned personnel have not been paying attention to the many niches and changes that are taking place, hence have lost sight of the potentialities that are in store for us.
Sports today is big business and we may not be able to produce world class sportsmen and sports women, but let us maximise from the spinoffs that the many disciplines have on offer.
Already, we have seen that because of our comparatively cheaper accommodation and other amenities associated with the tourism industry, St Vincent and the Grenadines is ready to take care of the dribs and drabs.
This obviously has to be the starter, as we build on what we have, with the view of rivalling our regional neighbours who possess larger economies of scale, larger populations and are abound with better sporting infrastructure. But, for the time, make the best of what we have.
Set apart from the benefits to tourism, sports and access to sports, serve as a means of injecting national and community pride in our people.
Notwithstanding the inevitable, that sports is an outlet for Vincentians to bond, get physically fit, recreate, energise and relieve some of the many burdens that weigh us down.
Sports in short is a release valve and a mental tool needed especially in the abrasive society that is emerging.
Therefore, a timely word to the wise, let us put a little bit more emphasis in sports, as the all-round benefits that accrue are the correct ingredients for the social transformation of the many -sided complexities of our human existence.