"T&T as the sports hub of the Caribbean. Why Not?"
This was the theme of FINA president Dale Neuberger’s presentation at yesterday’s Sport Industry TT Conference which was hosted by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.
The conference included a number of panel discussions as well as addresses from various private and public sector experts on areas from finance, tourism and hospitality to social media, branding and marketing as well as event management professionals.
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith was also present to make a presentation on the "Impact of Crime on Tourism and the Impact of Sport on Crime".
Neuberger’s presentation was especially thought-provoking and one such moment occurred when the American encouraged the gathering to repeat the following affirmation: "T&T, the sports hub of the Caribbean."
He said, "Because once you say it and once you begin to think about it, it actually could happen."
The native of Indiana, USA, gushed that this was not his first visit to T&T, reeling out a series of sporting facts about this country as he marvelled at our rich cultural and sporting history and tradition, which he says makes the twin-island republic a special place to visit.
Neuberger was especially complimentary about the abundance of dedicated and World-class sporting facilities at T&T’s disposal.
"When I think about these incredible facilities that you have and all that is possible not only for the youth of your country but also for others from around the Caribbean and around the world, it's really special," he said. "Many of the places that are trying hard to develop a sports industry are facility poor. But also, people have a chance to come here and just do some plain activity and have fun. And if there’s any place in the world that I know that people know how to have fun, it certainly is here."
However, what Neuberger also noted is that other countries around the region may have already begun to develop their sports industries based heavily on traditional tourism, which makes it imperative for this country to think outside of the box.
"It's more than sports tourism. That’s a part of it but not all of it. And that’s what your special opportunity is - how do we take this from being what others are doing and that we can do well too and take it to the next level and do something that makes us the centre of activity.
"So what we hope to have happened is that T&T is where champions are crowned and athletes come here because this is where the major events are held. But second of all, we want T&T to be thought of as the place where important decisions are made. Where important discussions take place."
Neuberger also highlighted the need for the simultaneous development of other areas saying: "Part of this whole eco-system are other elements too, such as sport business. Think of all the services that are necessary for those events to take place. If there are a significant number of events, those businesses can really thrive. Businesses that are already here, they get stronger as a result and also new business crop up."