On the heels of a successful Run Barbados in December, comes 2017: The Year of Sports. This designation is one of the pillars of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI)’s comprehensive three-year sports tourism plan.
In keeping with current tourism trends, and a growing traveler appetite for adventure and activity, the BTMI has identified key events aimed at capitalizing on available infrastructure and resources to generate additional business for Barbados.
The Year of Sports 2017 will feature a blend of established calendar favourites, and new, carefully crafted events, covering interests from watersports to cricket and beach tennis. These new events include the OK Dinghy World Championships, the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival, Barbados Pro World Surf League 3000QS, the Barbados Beach Tennis Open, Barbados Beach Wellness Festival, the Barbados Festival of Cycling, Dragon World Championships 2017 and the Barbados Open Club Championship.
OK Dinghy World Championships (May 25-31) & Finn World Masters Championship (June 3-9)
The OK Dinghy International Association (OKDIA) is the world organization for the OK-Dinghy class. OK Class Worlds travels to various destinations around the world each year and it is expected that this event will attract at least 100 of the world’s best sailors to compete against each other. The 2017 World Championships in Barbados will be the class’s 55th championship, and the class will also be celebrating the boat’s 60th anniversary.
In addition, each year the Masters, the Grand Masters and the Legends sail a separate World Championship called the Finn World Masters and feature races among a class of heavier dinghies as seen in the Summer Olympic Games.
Collectively, these events are expected to attract as many as 250 competing boats. Approximately 500 visitors including the sailors, their family and friends, are expected to converge on the island for what essentially, will be the largest yachting and sailing event ever to be staged in Barbados.
Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival (May 7-14)
Following a successful bid in 2014, Barbados was announced as the host venue for the 2017 edition of the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival. Held every two years, the competition is geared towards those over the age of 35 from around the world, who love the game of cricket. It provides them with an opportunity to play against fellow enthusiasts, regardless of their abilities. To date there are 32 overseas teams registered for the event, representing a range of countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. A further 10 local teams are also registered to compete in the event.
Barbados Pro World Surf League 3000 QS (April 16-21)
The World Surf League qualifying world tour is a combination of events which take place at various locations around the world to pick the top finisher to join the elite Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. The 3,000 events are amongst some of the highest rated qualifying events throughout the year.
Scheduled to be contested in both the men’s and women’s divisions over an eight-day period, this will be a major ground-breaking event for Barbados and presents a massive opportunity to further promote the island as a world-class surfing destination. Not only does it represent the first time that a surfing event of this magnitude will be staged on the island but it will also be the biggest surfing event in the Caribbean region to date. In a list of firsts, never before has a Dual 3000 event ever been contested in the Caribbean, an accomplishment to which Barbados can boldly stake claim.
Visitor participation is expected to exceed the 300 mark and will see some of the world’s best surfers competing against local talent. Travelling along with the surfers will be a team of coaches, managers, families and friends, potentially translating to as many as 500 visitors on island.
The Barbados Beach Tennis Open (June 26-July 2)
This invitational beach tennis tournament capitalizes on what is essentially a relatively new sport that is growing rapidly in the European and South American regions, namely Brazil. Beach tennis combines physical elements of tennis and beach volleyball with a fun, party atmosphere.
The Barbados Beach Tennis Open is expected to feature some of the world’s best male and female beach tennis players, competing in both doubles and mix-doubles. There will also be a Nation’s Cup featuring players from Brazil, France, Italy, Aruba as well as local players competing for the grand prize purse.
Dragon World Championships 2017 (October 28-30)
The popularity of Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boarding continues to rise. Utilising inflatable SUPs developed by the Red Paddle Co., this event will be the first of its kind to be staged in the region. The Dragon World Series will see teams from around the world competing to have the chance to take part in the first dedicated team World Championships in Barbados and be crowned the first Dragon World Champions.
In the coming months, teams of four people will be taking part in a variety of Dragon races in key regions including the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, the U.S.A, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. These races will be part of larger SUP race events, as well as stand-alone Dragon Series events. The competition will be open to paddlers of any level and competing categories including men’s, women’s, mixed and juniors.
The event is expected to attract a minimum of 20 teams (four members per team plus supporters), in addition to the Red Paddle Co. team, journalists, influencers and Red Paddle Co. ambassadors.
The Barbados Beach Wellness Festival (September 2-3)
Global trends continue to show an increased level of participation in health and wellness activities. Travel for health and wellness as the primary motivation is also on the increase. In response to these trends, Barbados will be hosting a wellness festival over a two-day period this September. The festival will feature yoga sessions from beginner to expert level, including SUP yoga, Thai yoga bodywork, tai chi and capoeira. There will also be beach activities such as workout sessions and watersports, and nature lovers can partake in biking, horseback riding and hiking tours.
In addition to traditional skin and beauty massages, there will be a Speakeasy Tent featuring motivational speakers and live performances. Visitors can also expect a cultural immersion via a Kula Market with art and craft, food and cooking demonstrations.
The Barbados Festival of Cycling (September 9-10)
Geared towards cycling enthusiasts, this event will feature a mix of road cycling activities culminating in a Round the Island Sportive entitled the Barbados 360, and Mountain Bike (MTB) trail rides culminating with a MTB race event.
The road cycling event will comprise four days of cycling to various locations, an event village, and two courses to choose from – the Barbados 360 Gold (112km route) and the Barbados 360 Silver (64km route).
Barbados Open Club Championship (October)
The Sir Garfield Sobers International Golf Tournament is the largest international golfing tournament on island to date. However, the event remains largely at peak capacity and as such the potential for growth is restricted. The Barbados Open Club Championship answers the call to further develop Barbados’ golf offerings, targeting clubs across key market jurisdictions.
To qualify, competitions will take place at various clubs within the respective jurisdictions with the eventual winners being invited to Barbados to compete for top honours in the Barbados Open Club Championships. The competition will be open to Amateurs and Club Professionals, both male and female.
Sports to lead the charge
These events and initiatives during 2017 are expected to diversify the Barbados product and reach fresh audiences. The new events alone are projected to welcome over 2,000 additional visitors to the island. BTMI CEO, William ‘Billy’ Griffith, added that the organization is fully committed to the Year of Sports 2017, which will feature prominently in upcoming promotional activity. “We expect that these new initiatives will contribute to the long-term objective of establishing Barbados as the number one sporting destination in the Caribbean region,” Griffith said.