C'bean citizens must come on board for CWC 2007
- CTO official
Stabroek News
November 30, 2003

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Cricket World Cup 2007 is a glorious opportunity for diversification of the Caribbean's traditional tour-ism offerings while capitalising on the same climatic endowment that has sustained the region in the past, Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organ-isation, Karen Ford-Warner said.

Delivering the main address at the opening of a two-day tourism conference organised by the Tourism Studies Unit of the University of Guyana at the Hotel Tower last week, Ford-Warner said an event of this nature successfully executed would help the region consolidate its advantage in a fiercely competitive environment where the main markets are also its strongest competitors with resources that vastly outweigh the region's.

Among the audience was a large group of sports administrators and tour operators and other stakeholders.

Ford-Warner emphasised that part of the developmental process for CWC 2007 will be the work necessary to bring all Caribbean citizens on board and to inculcate in them a sense of ownership of the activity. This needs to be addressed urgently, she said.

As the region's tourism agency the CTO Secretary General, Jean Holder sits on the CWC 2007 Board to provide guidance on issues of ground, air and sea transportation, accommodation and facilitation which the CTO sees as a challenge.

To put the challenges of the CWC in perspective, she noted that some 16 teams would be involved in the event over a period of 40 days. The teams will be supported by tens of thousands of fans who will seriously test the region's entertainment, accommodation catering and parking facilities; land, sea and air transportation services; security and the safety of airports and seaports; health services and generally the region's administrative ability to stage successfully an event of this magnitude which was never done before.

She noted that at present the region's safest operation is already very complex because of its many small islands (except for Guyana) separated by large bodies of water which will exacerbate the logistical challenges.

Like the cricketers themselves, she said that the Caribbean people, will have to perform before the glare of the cameras of the world watched by some 1.2 billion pairs of eyes.

Seeing the event as a once in a lifetime experience, she said it will be an opportunity for the people to shine and to show off their beautiful countries and other facilities and invite the visitors to return after all the cricket events have ended to show them what real Caribbean hospitality is. Ford-Warner said it will also provide the chance to show to the world the honesty and politeness of the people; how clean the countryside and beaches are; to place high standard in the transport and the public services; to show off the hotels - whether at the luxury or bread and breakfast level; and to promote the unique cuisine and to put on stage a work force equal to the best in the world.

She described the hosting of the CWC 2007 as the biggest event yet undertaken by the region from which there will be great benefits to be gained. Some countries in the region have had significant experience with hosting smaller and medium size events which has helped to build the human capacity necessary to take on such a `mega' event.

With the ball rolling, she said, that there is need to bravely, confidently and strategically continue to plan for the successful execution bearing in mind that any plan must be part of a larger national or regional strategic plan which will take into account matters such as the use, promotion, management and maintenance of the facilities after the event has passed.

Speaking generally about sports tourism, Ford-Warner said that sports themselves are cultural manifestations of the most profound nature as evidenced in the phenomenon of cricket. They have a legitimate and inherent importance and play a crucial role in the development of communities.

Additionally, she noted that sports have the potential to enrich the tourism product and boost competitiveness. Whether as part of larger and international events, sports have the potential to attract incremental visitors, increase employment and contribute positively to the regional and national economy. They provide opportunities to profile and promote the region's destinations to this niche market.

By way of illustration, she noted that Sports Travel magazine estimated in 1998 that the sports related travel and tourism market is worth some US$180.3 billion.