St. Kitts – Nevis Sports Tourism Grows Economy

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
February 25, 2008

The growth of the sports tourism sub-sector in St. Kitts and Nevis means increased opportunities for locals in the sporting and tourism related fields.

During an appearance on SKNIS’ radio magazine programme Perspectives, Director of Sports Dave Connor said that the recent success of the sub-sector is due in large part to the close collaboration between his Department and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority and the benefits are being felt by the man on the street.

He referred to the improvements to the infrastructure which were generated by the hosting of first round matches of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup to support his statement. Connor added that persons have benefited from employment opportunities created by the renovation of sporting facilities in St. Pauls, Conaree, St. Peters, Cayon, McKnight and other areas.

“The maintenance of these facilities is paramount to the sports tourism product,” he explained. “That is something we have been focusing on and we have gotten excellent feedback from visiting teams. We are hoping that with these facilities being in top shape (coupled with the other offering of the destination), teams will be more encouraged to come here.”

This formula seems to be working. Officials attribute the return booking of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for preseason training as evidence of this. The junior team visited for two weeks last March and trained with local teams in St. Kitts and then in Nevis. This year’s visit will be similar but will have two main differences. The first is that the March 17 to 31 tour will start in Nevis as originally planned. The second is that the MCC senior team will visit instead of the junior team.

The newest sporting attraction in St. Kitts will be the Class 2 track and field facility being constructed at Bird Rock. The stadium will host the 700 athletes, officials and thousands of fans expected for the March 21 to 24 CARIFTA Games. Much like Warner Park, the track and field facility will be used to train local and visiting talent. The first of such visits take place on March 29. Expatriate Desai Williams will lead a team of track and field athletes from the UK for a two week stay.

Additional sports related visits scheduled in March include Dunnington Sports Club with 60 cricket, football and netball players from the United Kingdom. The UK’s Shrewsbury cricket team 24-man squad and the St. Elizabeth Catholic High School female football team of 24 student athletes from Canada will also use the sporting facilities.

Each club funds its stay on the twin island Federation, generating opportunities for local businesses, craft vendors and the like.

Corporate Communications Manager for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority Unoma Allen said that persons visiting here for sports tourism engagements often return to the island for rest and relaxation. She cited the return of several cricket players who were based here during the CWC including South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs, who wed his then fiancée on St. Kitts last June. Additionally, a number of fans have also returned, some as far away as Australia, to sample other forms of entertainment including the St. Kitts Music Festival.

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