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‘Sports tourism boosts NC economy’

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“The tournament also created between 15 to 30 temporary jobs for the duration of the tournament.”

SPORTS tourism has become an increasingly important part of the tourism industry in the Northern Cape and helps to boost the local economy.

This was the sentiment expressed by the MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Maruping Lekwene, during the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup that was in part hosted by the city recently.

Lekwene said that the cup placed the Province on the map as a destination for sport and adventure.

“The city of Kimberley recently hosted nine games of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup. The Kimberley Diamond Oval was chosen as one of the four centres to host this prestigious event and was honoured to be awarded the opening game between South Africa and Afghanistan,” said Lekwene.

“The Northern Cape, and Kimberley in particular, was showcased to a world audience of 1.5 billion people in over 80 countries. The audience caught a glimpse of what Kimberley and the surrounding areas can offer. The young cricketers, with their followers, will in time to come bring their families to visit the Northern Cape, which will result in bigger benefits and an economic injection for the Northern Cape.”

Lekwene said that the tourism sector in the city and local businesses also received major exposure during the event.

“Kimberley hosted other South Africans and international countries such as Afghanistan, England, West Indies, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Scotland. This culminated in visitors to the city who stayed at the accommodation establishments. All the team individuals, parents and supporters, including the 150 people that formed part of the television crew who were responsible for broadcasting the event, made use of the accommodation facilities in the city. These visitors and tourists also visited major tourist attractions such as the McGregor Museum and the Big Hole – this is the big economic spin-off for the city and the Province.

“It has become essential for us to explore alternative means of attracting both domestic and international visitors to a specific destination and we have certainly achieved that by hosting a series of prominent sporting events.

“The visitors who attended the tournament were overawed by the incredible hospitality of our people and the iconic tourism attractions. They will most certainly become return visitors and outspoken ambassadors for the Province.”

Lekwene added that the event also provided temporary employment to residents of the city and also sparked a passion for the sport amongst the youth.

“With assistance from the Office of the Premier and the Department of Education we managed to expose between 700 to 1 000 schoolchildren per game from disadvantaged communities to come and watch the future stars in the various teams. We hosted 33 practice sessions which gave between 50 to 80 boys and girls an opportunity to bowl to the Under-19 stars. There were also four ‘Coaching for Good’ sessions where the players ventured into the communities to do some coaching clinics for all our young boy and girl cricketers.

“The tournament also created between 15 to 30 temporary jobs for the duration of the tournament.

“The value of a global tournament of this nature cannot be calculated immediately but one will see the real value in years to come. This is evident that sports and adventure tourism in the Northern Cape has grown at an exceptional rate,” concluded Lekwene.