Equestrian sports tourism is a growing field, according to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
The Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation held the Caribbean Equestrian Association Junior Jumping Competition in Cayman on 18 and May. This competition is hosted in several countries over the course of the year, and points are accumulated throughout the year and awarded to the winning team at the end of the year.
There are four countries participating in the Caribbean Equestrian Association Junior Jumping Competition in 2013 – the Cayman Islands, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. Cayman won the two-day competition, followed by Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. The Cayman team currently leads the country scores with 10 points, followed by Barbados with six points. Trinidad is in third place with four points and Jamaica has two points. There are two shows remaining this year. In September, the teams will be competing in Trinidad; they go to Jamaica in December for the final competition.
Jane van der Bol, the executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, was the Fédération Equestre Internationale Jumping Show Steward for the event.
“I have always been involved in the equestrian sport from a young age as a competitor in show jumping, cross country jumping and dressage, and later on as part of the board of directors for the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation,” she said. “It has been a long road to bring the level of competition and riding in the Cayman Islands to an internationally recognised level of riding. This has been achieved due to the hard work of Mary McTaggart of the Cayman Islands Equestrian Centre and the dedicated equestrian lovers on the island.”
Sport tourism is growing rapidly in the global travel and tourism industry and is expected to contribute 10.5 per cent to gross domestic product within the next decade, exceeding US$10 billion, according to the World Sport Destination Expo in 2010.
The association said that Cayman brings tourists to the island who are involved in a variety of sports. The direct benefit to Cayman, felt the association, was an influx of money, with an indirect benefit that will be seen in years to come as the tourists return to Cayman on vacation with their family.
Then-Ministry of Sports Director Collin Anglin and Deputy Director Flynn Bush attended the opening ceremony, welcoming the international riders and coaches from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. The recognition for the equestrian sport by the Ministry of Sports was welcomed by the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation and all the riders as they strive to put Cayman on the map of equestrian events. In 2011, Cayman had its first rider, Jessica McTaggart, compete in the Pan Am Games in Mexico.
The hope of the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation is to have young riders continue in the footsteps of Jessica McTaggart, Ms van der Bol said.