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Wes Hall: Sports tourism the way forward

Wes Hall: Sports tourism the way forward

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Tourism is a way of ensuring that small open economies of the Caribbean grow and sports are accepted as a vehicle for enhan-cing the package. That position was endorsed by one who has been an evangelist in the real sense of the word towards sports tourism. {{more}} Wesley Winfield Hall is the giant figure, who has stalked the world for over four decades.

His imposing character remains etched in the minds of cricket lovers universally. For he was the one who bowled the final over in the historic tied Test match in Brisbane, Australia in 1961. He is still very much that commanding personality, preserved by his sharp wit and mental fitness which transpose his physical tasks.

He served as minister of tourism in his home country, Barbados, and has held a number of posts in business and cricket in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.

He was an apt selection for a presentation at a Sport Tourism Forum staged at the Peace Memorial Hall.

He was in his element and endorsed the policy of sports tourism. Wes, as he was affectionately called, kept listeners enthralled with his mixed delivery. He acknowledged the value of education to the athlete, but stressed the need to adopt to changing situations. For Wes, the computer is a “tool of development”, and he endorsed its use in all aspects.

He assured that the benefits of tourism to the entire community were real. He identified linkages with sectors in health, agriculture, heritage and culture, and emphasised the need for communities to understand the industry.

Wes outlined the need for societies to embrace “women as partners in progress”. He saw women as playing their role in improving cricket in the Caribbean.

He gave some pointers to the Vincentian Tourism and Culture Minister Rene Baptiste of the desire to broaden the product to make the nation more attractive and competitive.

He encouraged sports-minded visitors during slow periods.

Wes’ presentation revealed a depth of approach to the topic. He can be considered a pioneer in the region. His blueprint was one the Minister would do well to emulate, with some fine-tuning, to cater to the national agenda and landscape.

But Wes wanted to ensure that there was public awareness of the programme with its advantages.

He has a book on sports tourism, which he expects will be published in a year, but perhaps his presentation, made to a collection of sporting enthusiasts and tourism-related operators, contained excerpts of the impending publication.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth Andreas Wickham also addressed the gathering. He was quick to draw the relevance of sports and education, a factor Wes endorsed with genuine fervour.

The Permanent Secretary highlighted the potential of a vigorous sports tourism policy and stressed government’s measures to improve the product.

Former West Indies wicketkeeper Michael Findlay, a one-time team-mate of Wes, introduced his colleague. And the relationship between them was so entrenched that Findlay spent some time introducing the guest.

It was fond memories for both of them, revealing moments of exchanges on and off the field of play.