LOC launches Bed & Breakfast website for CWC 2007
-- official says accommodation plans moving smoothly
By Sean Devers
December 22, 2006
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the International Cricket Conference Cricket World Cup 2007 (ICC CWC2007) yesterday launched its Bed and Breakfast website at the LOC office in Georgetown during its final media briefing for the year.
LOC's Chief Executive Officer Karan Singh, Chairman of the LOC; Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Frank Anthony; Minister of Public Works, Robson Benn; Convener of the Local Security Committee for CWC, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Paul Slow; and Venue Manager of the Stadium at Providence, Walter Willis addressed the media on a number of issues relating to Guyana's hosting of six CWC super-eight matches, from March 28 to April 9.
Minister Anthony informed that accommodation plans are “moving smoothly along.” He noted that several hotels are completing renovations and expansions for the mega event.
“Buddy's and Casique hotels, both at Providence, have assured us (Guyana Government) that their facilities will be ready in time for the World Cup. It is imperative that they are completed, since, without those rooms, we will not meet our obligations to the ICC,” Dr Anthony stressed.
He disclosed that advance payments, for rooms for players and officials, have already been made to the two hotels from the supplementary budget, adding that the ICC will be standing the cost of the rooms.
Although the ICC will pay for the rooms, the Minister explained, Government's obligation is to have the rooms available. He added that an advance was paid to ensure that the rooms are ready by March.
Dr Anthony said that Government is expected to make a profit from the exercise, but he stressed that it would not be a substantial one.
Bed & Breakfast
Dr Anthony noted that while the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) programme is “on target,” the LOC was trying to make up for the shortfall of no longer having the trailer park option available by offering more rooms to prospective visitors through the B&B initiative.
Dr Anthony said there had been an increase in interest for the B&B in recent weeks. He hopes this would translate into actual rooms being made available.
While owners of houses in the city and close to the stadium are being encouraged to make rooms available for visitors, anyone in Guyana could register their rooms for approval by the LOC.
Once a room is approved and registered, it will be placed on the website, and persons from anywhere in the world can make bookings.
The rooms will be graded and categorised; and the various categories, costs, amenities available, and other relevant information will be posted on the website (www.guyanaaccommodation.org).
Homeowners desirous of making their rooms available can contact the LOC on telephone numbers 226-2052 or 225-9854. Once an inspection is done by the LOC, an arrangement can be worked out with several of the local banks (working in collaboration with the LOC) to grant low-interest loans to upgrade the facilities.
The actual transaction between the home owner and visitor will be exclusive, but the LOC can assist in cases of electronic payment if the homeowner does not have access to such technology.
The LOC will provide free registration, free marketing and promotion, participation in training programmes, access to loans (conditions apply) and an opportunity for the home owner to acquire an extra income.
Minister Anthony encouraged locals to capitalise on the final phase of ticket sales, which begins on January 15. He informed that a number of promotional activities have been planned to increase the cricket spirit and promote Guyana as a CWC destination. These, he said, include using past and present Guyana cricketers in promotional campaigns in the Diaspora.
West Indian Community Radio and Television will also be used to promote Guyana's preparations, and opportunities to those in North America.
The ICC is responsible for promoting the World Cup globally, but the LOC feels that its promotion is inadequate, and has embarked on its own measures, which should intensify as the event draws closer. The B&B website will also have links to the Guyana Tourism Authority and the ICC CWC accommodation websites.
Stadium external work
Minister Benn said his Ministry has been mandated to deliver the Stadium in a completed fashion to the Government. He was confident that the February 28 deadline will be met.
“All external works are 65% completed, and the focus now is on the parking areas, drains, roadways, and fences. The practice pitch concerns are being addressed, and I don't foresee problems in that area which would affect our hosting of matches,” Benn opined.
Beautification exercise begins
The media was told that the arrivals area at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri has been enlarged, while all unauthorised signage, sand piles, old vehicles, and shacks on the East Bank Demerara Public Road are being removed. This action will also take place in the city and its environs, and on the East Coast of Demerara.
The Public Works Minister also revealed that, with assistance from the private sector and City Council, a beautification exercise has been embarked upon, not only for CWC, but hopefully, long after, as Guyanese develop a new culture regarding how the environment looks, and the role they play in making Guyana beautiful.
A Museum Garden is also being set up near the National Museum in time for CWC.
Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe explained that he is responsible for the match-day security operations being delivered. He explained that the ICC mandates that certain things be put in place on match days.
He informed that the training of security personnel who will work at the stadium has already begun, adding that four Guyanese recently returned from a course in Jamaica.
Slowe pointed out that approximately 300 security personnel will be trained, between February 26 and March, to perform specific duties at the Stadium. He disclosed that since each person will have to be certified and accredited for CWC, more than those required will be trained, in the event of sickness or drop-out of security workers.
The ICC also stipulates that the host venues are required to put in place a number of security measures. He said that a national security plan has been documented.
Many of the stipulated measures mandated by the ICC are not normally used in the region, but, Slow said, CARICOM will seek assistance from the bigger countries, like the USA, for specialist assistance in some areas for CWC.
Slow said local security plans for the tournament are ‘well on the way.' He reminded that while the Stadium will be the hub of activities during the games, the Guyana Police Force will also have to police the tourist resorts, night spots, and other places which visitors may find interesting. They will also have to maintain a high level of security at the Stadium.
He noted that, in the last ICC Security Report, Guyana received favorable reviews.
“Four areas of security were looked at, and we (Guyana) got green (highest marks) or blue (second highest) in all of the areas except one. Because the fence was not yet constructed when the ICC came here recently, we got a yellow (lowest mark) in the area of stadium security, but once the fence is completed, we will have met all the requirements,” he said.
Commenting on the ongoing work at the Stadium and the recent ICC report on the venue, Willis said that corrective measures are being taken on all of the defects pointed out by the ICC.
Willis expressed confidence that everything will be completed on time. He said the landscaping team is already on the site, and should commence work shortly.
Of the 28 points listed by the ICC, four areas were deemed unsatisfactory, and Willis assured that those critical areas are being worked on.
President of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), Chetram Singh, is on record as saying that, contrary to a Kaieteur Sports report on the matter, the ICC inspection team was not referring to the match pitch in their report, but to the practice pitches when expressing their dissatisfaction.
However, an ICC document, yesterday, confirmed that the four areas of dissatisfaction were the match pitch, outfield, sightscreens and practice nets.
Willis said he agreed with the ICC's assessment that the pitch had no grass and suffered from poor ground keeping, and the outfield had sparse grass covering and was very sandy and soft.
He, however, did not agree that the sightscreen was a concern, explaining that just a small section of the window of the players' dining area, to the south of the ground, had to be covered.
He said the practice pitch is under construction, and is already grassed, while the bowlers' run-up is also being prepared, and should be ready on time.
Explaining why the outfield and pitch failed to meet the ICC standards, Willis said, “Four days before the visit, no irrigation was done to the field, which caused a major problem, due to the lack of enough moisture content. The cutting equipment (which is now on the site) had also not yet arrived. The Trinidadian company contracted to prepare the outfield and pitch has since returned to Providence, and already a lot of improvements have been made on the pitch and field.”
Guyana is scheduled to play the Leeward Islands during the final week of January in the regional four-day, first-class competition, while two regional one-day games, against Barbados and the Leeward Islands, will be played at Providence in February.
Meanwhile, Karan Singh yesterday confirmed that the name `Providence Stadium' has been officially changed to the `Guyana National Stadium at Providence.'
Sources close to the LOC opined that the name change ‘should not be a big thing,' but felt that those in authority could have waited until the completion of CWC, since the tickets for the Guyana matches have already been printed using the name Providence Stadium, which could cause some confusion.