Bahamas Maintaining Sport Tourism Appeal

In an effort to maintain the country’s appeal as a premier sports destination and attract new business, the National Sports Agency (NSA) is investing $5 million to upgrade several sports facilities in and around the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.

General Manager of the NSA Jeffrey Beckles said there are currently 52 capital works projects underway, the biggest of which is the $800,000 refurbishment of the field at the national stadium.

In addition, phase two of Sir Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium renovations are underway. This phase will result in improvements to the acoustics. Beckles said the NSA will also remarcite the pool at the Betty Kelly Swimming Complex this week.

The upgrades will bode well for the Ministry of Tourism and the NSA’s goal to go after new sport tourism opportunities.

“They're very important,” Beckles said referring to the upgrades.

“We are building and strengthening the brand of The Bahamas. We say it's better in The Bahamas and we're using our sales hook as ‘sports in paradise’. These venues and the continued upgrading of these venues play an integral part in the conversation that our sales team will have when they go to the global market because venues drive the conversation.

“So if you don't have qualified and quality venues then you have very little to talk about. So our efforts are serving a global effort in that our national sales team at the Ministry of Tourism that’s selling The Bahamas will now have a greater capacity to understand what these facilities have to offer. They became the calling card at the global table.”

Beckles said the NSA will also improve the technology in the stadium in time of Poyeyes Bahamas Bowl, which is in its third year. Popeyes Bahamas Bowl will be held at the stadium on December 23. Two American collegiate teams with face-off of the Bahamas Bowl trophy and a year’s worth of bragging rights.

Director of Sports Tourism Virginia Kelly said the upgrades will make the work that her department does in attracting new business and maintaining current business easier.

“We know we have the facilities,” Kelly said. “We can say to our professional teams, to colleges, ‘please come, we have facilities, we are able to host your event here’.

“We are positioned as [one of] the premier sports destination in the world. We started off small and we were going after the region but we realized that our tentacles can reach further because The Bahamas is a destination and is an allure by itself. People want to come to The Bahamas and they are bringing their sporting events too. So it's even more of an allure and an attraction because I say, once you’re finished playing, you can come out and play with us.”

NSA Chairman Lynden Maycock said the bottom line for the authority is ensuring that the facilities are attractive.

“We want to let persons know that The Bahamas is the place to come,” he said.

“It’s better in The Bahamas. Sports are better in The Bahamas.

Among the major sporting events that will take place at the stadium are the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (December 23, 2016); IAAF World Relays (May2017), Dan Marino & Friends Bahamas Weekend (May 2017); and Commonwealth Youth Games (July 2017).

Several non-sporting events will also be hosted at the stadium including the upcoming IKO conference, Beckles said.

He added that the facilities are becoming increasingly popular for conferences and entertainment venues.

“The potential is significant,” he said.

“The work that we are doing will increase our capacity to be known as a multi-event host destination.”

Media Contact: Krystel Brown | Krbrown@bahamas.com | (242) 397-2793