« on: May 02, 2013, 06:48:27 AM »
Roberts - Invest in sports tourism
By Miranda La Rose Thursday, May 2 2013
click on pic to zoom inCOULD an estimated $800 million investment in a Sporting Village at Couva to house high performance sporting venues, and upgraded stadiums across the country for elite athletes be the catalyst for sport tourism?
Sports Minister Anil Roberts, the brain behind the Sports Village told Business Day recently Friday that once the projects – a $195- national aquatic centre, a $200million-cycling velodrome/ BMX Olympic park with indoor wooden track and training track, and a $200-million tennis centre with a centre court capacity of 2,000, all have the potential to attract world class athletes for exhibition matches and tournaments.
These facilities will give international credence to the existing Ato Boldon Stadium for track and field and football, and the Balmain Cricket Centre in Couva. Initially it was proposed that the aquatic centre, which it is proposed will be named in honour of Olympian George Bovell III, was earmarked for construction near to the Hasely Crawford Stadium and the cycling velodrome was due to be built at Mount Hope.
The plan for the development of the Sporting Village was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Finance as part of the country’s diversification programme. “For the first time in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, sport has been moved off the recreational part of the budget to Government’s investment programme. It is being treated as an industry and it now forms one of the pillars to diversify the economy away from oil and gas,” Roberts said.
Treating sports as an industry, he said will boost sport tourism, create sustainable job opportunities in the construction sector initially, and add to the country’s revenue. Apart from job creation on the periphery to serve the sporting community, the new facilities will themselves require sport science skills and will create jobs in sport medicine, physiology, sport psychology, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and coaching among other areas.
While international athletes will have their own coaches, Roberts said where there are huge gaps to get required skills initially, Roberts said, “We are making government to government arrangements, for example, with Cuba in coaching and sport science.” Other arrangements are underway with Kenya for long distance running and China for a number of other areas.
Investing in a centralised area, Roberts said will encourage private sector investment in the hospitality sector including hotels and restaurants, as well as in banking, shopping and medical facilities. “The land in the area will become quite valuable, as the impetus for investment moving forward will be the activities generated domestically and internationally through sport tourism,” Roberts said. The facilities being built by Shanghai Construction Company with funding from China Export and Import Bank are scheduled for completion between October and December 2014. Shanghai won the financing contract (with two percent on the financing) from among several local bidders and three international consortiums.
The contract provides for a minimum of 40 percent local content including concrete and steel which will be obtained locally. There might be a slight increase in cost, Roberts said due to site preparation, including pile driving and soil compaction for which the sum of $54 million has already been spent. “We do not want the same mistakes to be made as with the Tarouba Stadium which is now shifting,” he said.
“We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past, so monitoring and controls are in place by different entities, including the Ministry of Finance,” he said “to ensure value for money, correct scope of works, time lines and budgets are kept quite tight. They will also ensure that at any time red flags are raised, problems could be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.”
Who will manage the high performance centres? “We are not going to hand them to sports organisations which most people know are made up of moms and dads, who do a good job, but are not professionally qualified to deliver the goals and objectives Government wants from these facilities,” Roberts said.
A board of independent managers, business people, and lawyers among other people, will be established to oversee the facilities. “They will be run as businesses with business structures and not as recreational facilities,” he said. Recreational facilities and sports grounds are in all regions. Sixty four are currently under refurbishment. Maintenance is one of the most important aspects of the management plan, he said “because in TT the landscape is replete with examples of brilliant sporting facilities that were constructed and within a few years because of a lack of maintenance they diminished in value.”
The Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) which is executing the project, he said has started to develop a business plan in conjunction with the Tourism Development Company and the Ministry of Tourism to market the facilities to the global market. “We will be aggressive, not only in marketing the facilities for training elite athletes, but we will aggressively bid to host international tournaments. We will bid to hold the World Swimming Championships within the next six years. We will be bidding for the CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games, the Pan Am (Pan American) Games. We will be bidding for the World Cycling Championships, for ITF (International Tennis Federation) tournaments and semi pro... Very will be bidding for everything.”Hosting international competitions bring along media coverage which provides some amount of advertising, and groups of supporters who will want to experience the beaches, business, nightlife, food, and eco-tourism. “Every 10,000 sports tourist that we can increase will increase the GDP of TT by about US$120 million as long as we get them to stay for six nights and five days, at an average spending of US$94 per day. Over the next five years,” he said, “we want in sport tourism specifically to increase the country’s visitor arrival by 50,000.”
Already, Roberts, an international swimming coach noted that the management of the USA Olympic Swim team wants to make the national aquatic centre their training facility in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The management team visited TT earlier this year to begin negotiations in this regard.
The aquatic centre will include two 50 by 25 metres pools, a diving well, a synchronised swimming pool, and a play park for children. At present, he noted that most elite athletes from North America or Europe would train in countries like Barbados, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. An advantage, however, with proper marketing, he said would be the new state-of-the-art swimming facilities that would “blow away” on an average 15 to 25 year-old concrete structures that do not have the moveable boom that could change the depth of the pool, and have facilities for coaches to film underwater.
“Our comparative advantage will be that our facilities are newer, technologically sophisticated and far better. Most of the other facilities are single 50-metres pool, with a 25-metre pool. We will have five pools in one area,” he said.
To top it off, he said, “We will have sports medicine facilities including MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), a recovery centre, massage tables - all built into the facility so that it will become a one-stop shop for local and international elite athletes.”
When 30 elite swimmers for example, he said come to TT for about two weeks, not only will Caribbean Airlines get the revenue, but the taxi men, and the hospitality sector. They will use the facilities for four to six hours per day at an average of US$5 to US$8 an hour a swimmer. One session will be roughly US$600 per team for 30 members a day.
Were 30 teams to visit and use the facility during the winter season, he said that, “you are looking at US$360,000 or TT$2 million. That is enough money to run the entire facility for the entire year based on maintenance, security, chlorine, and so on. In that short space of time you have covered your cost.” Noting that at present the economics of sport tourism are unknown in TT, Roberts said that his ministry was in discussions with the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Transport to include on the immigration form a section call ‘Sport’ as is done in Barbados.
When visitors come to TT, they come for either business and/or pleasure as stated on the immigration form. Once introduced, Roberts said, “I could go to immigration and ask how many visitors came for sport in 2014, so that I could go to the Finance Minister and say listen, I brought in 24,000 sport tourists and they have contributed so much to the country’s GDP, and we have justified our investments.”
Anil the day would come when the truth would be told about that Tarouba Stadium your wicked PEE PEE
Government abundant .