CWC Minority Report
March 14, 2007
A FEW months ago, it was verboten almost to mention anything negative or even too critical regarding Guyana’s preparations for hosting the CWC 2007 Super Eight matches – it was virtually guaranteed that the stadium would be ready, the city would be clean, the visitors would come in droves, there would be adequate accommodation, and the West Indies would have trounced all their opponents.
Today, even as the green light has been given for Guyana’s hosting of its scheduled matches, some red flags are popping up.
While some of these have been noted recently in the press, yesterday’s article in this paper “Guyana last lap for CWC”, confirms that all may not be well come the end of this month.
The most remarkable of revelation concerns the accommodation for the visitors.
Over the past year, Guyana’s accommodation industry has seen an unprecedented boom in construction. Yet there is no way that the existing hotels, including those with little work left to be done, can accommodate some “20-30,000 cricket fans”. In light of this fact, it is curious that only a small fraction of the registered bed and breakfast rooms have been booked.
Then there is the element of poor ticket sales. While the “cultural mentality” of Guyanese may be a factor in the lack of sales of the cheaper tickets, the socioeconomic reality of Guyana – where the cheapest ticket represents a decent chunk or all of the average monthly paycheque – can also be a likely factor as well.
And supposing that Guyanese are tardy in purchasing their tickets – why is it that the tickets are not being booked by overseas visitors?
Taken together, the two elements of unsold tickets and unbooked rooms seem to indicate that the actual number of arrivals may be less than projected.
Finally, there is the question of preparation. Surely for an event some two years or more in the making, 48 hours is not the sort of window period that can be construed as comfortable.
It is true that a successful hosting of the CWC matches has the potential of bringing unheralded positive recognition for Guyana – this is something our minuscule tourism marketing budget cannot do and which a sprinkling of annual international reports makes more difficult with each passing year.
CWC offers the opportunity of the mass conversion of not only tens of thousands of foreign cricket fans, but to millions of viewers as well, to the beauty we have to offer here.
It is also true that the potential direct socio-economic impact would be tremendous.
If we were to assume that some 20,000 fans were to spend on average US$1,000 each on food, accommodation, transportation, entertainment et cetera, that would amount to a US$20 million injection into the local economy within that two week period.
And the long term benefits, provided that the visitors enjoyed their stay, wouldn’t be too bad either.
That said, the simple fact of the hosting of the event cannot be seen as a panacea for the very problems associated with it.
It is perhaps time that, our best hopes and expectations notwithstanding, we are presented with a detailed minority report on the status of Guyana’s preparation of CWC 2007.