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Bahamas Seeks to Become Sports Destination by Luring U.S.-Based Events

16 Dec, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic

In business, the practice of sending jobs to cheaper foreign markets that are relatively close to home is called “nearshoring,” an alternative to politically unpopular “offshoring.” Nearshore locations have become savvy about luring American business dollars away from the mainland. They may be about to do the same with American sports tourism dollars.

The latest of these is The Bahamas. The three-day Battle 4 Atlantis tournament which takes place at Nassau's Paradise Island one of the premiere early-season events in college basketball, and so far, it’s the only foreign nation to host NCAA-sanctioned games outside a U.S.-controlled territory. This year’s Battle 4 Atlantis event attracted 5,000 attendees, most of them from outside the Bahamas. According to a recent Associated Press article, The Bahamas has now set its sights on becoming not just a once a year hoops enclave but an established American sports outpost.

"This is something that we've been working on for a while," Bahamas sports and culture Minister Daniel Johnson said. "We launched our branch under my jurisdiction called 'Sports in Paradise.' That just doesn't cover basketball. ... We're really going after marquee events, best in class to match up with what we think as the Bahamas as a destination is the best in its class."

The Bahamas has been successfully filling its world-class sports event calendar. In May, Nassau was the site of the IAAF World Relays. Before the year’s end, it will also host the $3.5 million PGA Hero World Challenge, and the second-annual Bahamas Bowl in December. An LPGA event is scheduled for the island in January, and the island nation will host the FIFA World Cup of Beach Soccer. The busy schedule has helped boost hotel capacity from what is typically around 60 percent this time of year to 90 percent, Atlantis Paradise Island president and managing director Paul Burke told the AP.

"It's a growing market and we want to be in the mix," Burke said. "We're so multi-dimensional that people can check a lot of boxes being here. ... The convenience of having an event here is extraordinary."

Atlantis at Paradise Island is the largest tourist destination in the Bahamas, and features a variety of accommodations built around Aquaventure, a 141-acre waterscape. The property already boasts 2,317 hotel rooms and has plans to expand this number in the near future. The resort also features a temporary Imperial Arena inside its convention center. The destination has played host to a number of teams’ training camps, including the NBA's Miami Heat.

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