The re-development of Bushy Park is the culmination of three years’ work involving the Government of Barbados, the Barbados Motoring Federation (governing body for Motorsports in Barbados), the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (Motorsports world governing body), and a group of private investors. Bushy Park Circuit Inc. is the company formed by the investors to handle the physical aspects of the project as well as the ongoing operation of the facility upon completion. There are several phases to the project, with Phase One involving the completion of the perimeter fencing, main track, kart track, drag strip, clubhouse and pit area by a targeted date of the end of March 2014. It is planned that the new Bushy Park facility will be officially launched on the back of the Top Gear Festival, which at this point is scheduled for May 2014.
Mark Hamilton, Operations Director
‘There should be no doubt that Sports Tourism has established itself as a vital part of the overall tourism offering in Barbados. In my view, there has been a fundamental shift in how some corporations, sports clubs and associations now approach the topic of Sports Tourism, as compared to ten or even five years ago. In the past, many clubs from different disciplines viewed regional or international participation as their own ability to grow their respective sports within the club environment, without giving much thought to the bigger picture and the value that it brought to the table at a national level. More recently the value of this bigger picture has been recognised by some and the approach has become more holistic, with a national agenda combined with that of club and association. Corporate Barbados has for the most part recognised its increasing value both as a national contributor and the commercial opportunities that it offers. This has been assisted by our major events growing in status and stature locally, regionally and internationally.
With the challenges of the global economy continuing to negatively affect our ability to attract both the volume and ideal demographic, our natural resources of ‘Sun, Sea and Sand’, although still world-class, must now be supported with additional desirables that tap into additional segments of the market. Sports Tourism fits this agenda perfectly given our climate, available and developing infrastructure and HR resources. But there is still a lot of work to be done. If we are to be a serious player in this market then plans must be long-term, our facilities and infrastructure must be developed with long-term viability in mind (not just build today then try to figure out how the facility is going to be supported and maintained in the long-term, resulting in sub-standard facilities in the medium term) and associations, clubs and promoters must come to the table with meaningful, long-term, growth-driven and, most importantly, measurable initiatives which are not totally dependent on government handouts.
The benefits of “Bums in Beds” generated by Sports Tourism are numerous. Foreign exchange earnings through the usual sources of hotel, hire car, restaurant, etc., are the standard and generally more easily tracked income streams when associated with a specific event. However Barbados has the ability to mesmerize people into returning again and again, which is where I believe the real long-term potential lies, be it the return of the sports participant or friends and family who come by recommendation. I also believe that we must place our efforts where we will get our best return. Barbados is not an inexpensive destination therefore targeting higher net worth individuals makes obvious good sense. We have already witnessed recent successes in this regard with high repeat visits and property investments being made by competitors and other individuals tied to Motorsports.
Our long-term goals are best summarized in our mission statement: “To provide a world-class, multi-discipline, racing facility that offers local, regional and international participants and spectators an enjoyable experience that maintains their interest while testing the courage, determination and skill of competitors and crews within a safe environment.”
We are delighted that we will have an opportunity to welcome Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear Festival to Barbados in May 2014. And we are proud that it is the new Bushy Park Race Circuit facility that has made that possible.’