By NAN Contributor
News Americas, RIO, Brazil, Fri. Aug. 12, 2016: The first week of the Rio Games is almost over and as thousands from around the world, including US celebrities, have descended on the second biggest city in Brazil, a number of nations participating in the Summer Olympics are throwing open promotional house parties to welcome tourists and locals alike while cashing in on the huge tourist influx and marketing their nation’s tourism offerings. But only a single Caribbean country is taking advantage of this incredible marketing opportunity.
There are 22 teams from the Caribbean region participating in Rio 2016 but only Jamaica has launched a low keyed “National House” at the Games to subtly promote its clarion call ‘Come To Jamaica and Feel Alright.’
Jamaica House 2016 in Rio is located at Restaurante Prado Grill – Praça Santos Dumont, 31 – Gávea. The lounge has been transformed to look like a Jamaican bar, complete with the country’s flag, and features drinks, Jamaican food and reggae music. Appleton Estate rum is available along with Red Stripe beer and a DJ stirs the crowd up in the evening.
The Jamaicans are also bringing in Ky-Mani Marley for a show on August 20th, the second to last day before the Games wraps up. There is also some still promotional material on site that talks about Jamaica and focuses on the Marley family but nothing digital and flashy in the technological era and no real call to action to visit Jamaica now.
Still it is the only Caribbean tourism presence as thousands walk the streets of Rio looking for things to do outside of the sporting events.
While other regional countries whose economies are extremely depend on tourism – including Barbados, The Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. V.I., St. Lucia, The Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Kitts/Nevis, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Cuba – are present at the games, none have bothered to marry sports and tourism to promote their country’s offerings at the biggest sporting event on the globe. To say it is a giant missed promotional opportunity is an understatement.
This comes as the Caribbean Tourism Organization gears up for its annual State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC), in Barbados early next month with issues to be focused on including ironically, “No Place for the Status Quo” and “Capturing the Multi-Cultural and Emerging Markets.”
Contrast the Caribbean’s lack of a presence on the tourism side with what other countries are doing. Switzerland’s hospitality house has people lined up to skate on the snow they’ve brought in to create an ice skating rink; Holland House is all about their Heineken and charges a fee of US54 to get in; Portugal’s ‘House’ is actually a ship – the Sagres – which is serving up the cuisine of the Portuguese while Qatar is charging a US6.50 entry fee to its “market,” where it features Qatari goods, coffee, interactive touch screen kiosks and more.
Other countries with National Houses in Rio are the USA, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Colombia, Finland, Britain, Australia, France and Austria. There is also one House for all of Africa – which is representing a total of 54 countries of the African continent. Visitors can buy tickets to go inside an airplane with a capacity for 56 passengers that will offer the Fly to Africa Experience for five minutes that will display videos with tourist and cultural information about each of the countries.
It would have been nice to also see a Caribbean National House to represent the 22 nations and the region participating in Rio 2016, don’t you think? But alas, another missed opportunity indeed!