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CARIBBEAN - golf - World Cup of Golf 2006

Golf Cup big plug for sport tourism

Date December 28, 2005 by PHILIP SPOONER Compliments of the Nation News

BARBADOS is planning to be a major player in the game of Sports Tourism and Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch is pitching the island's project with this in mind.

Last week Barbados scored another first on the international sporting calendar as the island prepares to stage the World Cup of Golf just three months before the Cricket World Cup comes to the region. It will be the first time the golfing showpiece will be played in the eastern Caribbean.

Minister of Tourism, Noel Lynch said the tournament will bring exposure to a high-end market which the island could not pay for.

"When you look at the profile of people who play golf and stack that up against what we want to do, you would realise the game is played by a set of people in a particular socio-economic bracket, which profiles well with Barbados," Lynch said.

Benefits from the tournament will not be only for the posh Sandy Lane and the prestigious golf course. The other courses on the island will be used for warm-up events, and with closeto 1 000 fans expected, other hotels will also benefit.

The Cricket World Cup, to be played in March and April, 2007, will be seen by over two million viewers worldwide. Barbados will be hosting the final, and close to 20 000 visitors are expected on the island for the grand showpiece.

"Barbados is a place people can like and enjoy," Lynch said. "We understand where we want to take Barbados in the future.

"About five years ago we took a serious initiative to change the tourism profile of Barbados. What we aimed to do waseliminate the peaks and troughs that were traditional with the industry.

"To be able to do that, we needed to be able to focus on high-quality events to attract tourist to the island. We think we have achieved one here with the World Cup of Golf."

The announcement that the prestigious golfing event would be coming to the island came on Friday at a gala breakfast launch at the Sandy Lane Country Club.

Present were several local and foreign investors, senior government figures and influential sports administrators, all with a view to pushing the various projects forward.

Golf is the fastest-growing sport on the planet and Barbados is poised to benefit, as a television audience of close to a billion will be tuning in for the event which runs December 4-10, 2006. Research has shown that the website of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) is one of the most popular in the world.

The Sandy Lane County Club will host the event in December in which the world's top 18 golfers will be invited to compete for a purse worth at least US$4 million, organisers said Friday.

"We chose Barbados because it is a great golfing destination and it has many of the attributes we are looking for," said Jack Warfield, vice-president of the World Golf Championship.

"We were looking for a new destination where we were confident the event would be well received and we could enhance the profile of such a world-class competition. It's sure to be a win-win!"

Stuart Layne, chief executive and president of the Barbados Tourism Authority, said the tournament formed part of a thrust to have one major event on the island every year. He said details would be coming soon on tbig events for 2008, 2009 and 2010.


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