SPORTS tourism stakeholders are looking at more world-class sports facilities and cities to position the Philippines as a premium sports destination, attracting more international sporting events.
Thus said Charles Lim, the president of Sports Turismo Alliance, Inc. (STAI), a non-stock, non-profit organization of winners in the Philippines Sports Tourism Awards (PSTA) since 2015.
Lim was referring to consolidating efforts to promote Clark, Subic and New Clark City as a sports city destination.
"To move forward, before we were so rudely and devastatingly interrupted by Covid-19, we need to complete the next and future phases or final stages to the NCC Sports Complex to make it a globally acceptable for more international events," said Lim.
STAI is engaged in strategic planning, education, bidding and marketing of sports events and destination promotions. It is a member of the International Association of Event Hosts, a worldwide body of event host cities and countries like Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, USA, Britain and Spain.
The Philippines is the fourth Asian country to gain membership into this distinct organization after Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.
"As advocates of sports tourism, we like to work with host cities to hold as many events in their locality as possible. It may be a challenge at this time because of Covid-19, but international events are planned two, four or maybe more years ahead," Lim said.
"The NCC is the best thing that ever happened to sports in the Philippines in decades. The track and field stadium, the aqua center and the Games Village are basic vital components in developing a sports city. Maybe more facilities should be added eventually. However, we have Clark and possibly Subic, because of its close proximity, to compose of a major sports hub which should satisfy the needs of games hosts," he added.
Among the international sports events, the Clark hub should vie for are the biennial Asian Beach Games and Asian Athletics Championships just like the Asian Swimming Championships and the SEA Games Paralympics, which have been postponed to 2021 still to be held at the NCC, according to Lim.
"With more hosting experience in place, more international events can be bided for," Lim said.
He encouraged the strong alliance of Subic, Clark and NCC as the sports facilities in each of these destinations to complement one another.
To realize this, Lim recommends a full complement of a working department within the alliance to constantly prepare bids, monitor, secure partnerships and training with the end result of booking stadiums and venues, hotels, airline seats, restaurants and tours to be undertaken by the respective destinations.
"It's high time everyone realizes sports tourism is one gigantic industry in the Philippines with greater potential than many other components of tourism. However, tourism players cannot just sit back and wait for bookings to come in. Depending on the destination, hotels should also be involved in the bids and other preparations such as dietary meals, training facilities, equipment storage, health services, security and the likes," Lim said.
He cited the recent hosting of the Philippine Cup in the PBA Bubble in Clark.
"This has taken event hosting during the pandemic to a different level altogether," said Lim. "We can all only marvel at the PBA, the Quest Hotel and Clark Development Corporation for making this happen. Basketball fans were indeed lucky."