Is Guyana ready to take advantage of 2007 ICC World Cup?
Asks Kaieteur Sport's Rawle Welch

Kaieteur News
January 16, 2007

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With just 54 days to go before the start of Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, the nine countries chosen to host matches will be busily engaged in the grueling task of concluding preparations for the successful staging of the ICC's mega event.

The cost of hosting an event of this magnitude must have been an enormous burden to many of the countries and their economies.

So, are we (Caribbean) prepared sufficiently in our respective territories to be excellent hosts so that even after the event, we will continue to benefit due to our unparalleled hospitality or suffer because of our inadequate preparations which could leave a negative legacy and adversely affect our respective economies?

No better opportunity could be presented to us to showcase our unmatched hospitality, diverse culture and most of all, our pristine rainforest and beaches.

It is therefore the responsibility of the relevant stakeholders, Governments, non-government organisations, hoteliers, tour operators and all others connected to CWC 2007 to ensure that the billions of dollars spent to prepare for this event is recouped with substantial profit as well.

Another important aspect that should not be overlooked or taken lightly is the manner in which we treat the visitors when they arrive in the Caribbean. That will be the litmus test which will tell what type of legacy we are left with when the visitors return to their respective countries.

It must be noted that a lot of investors have made huge sacrifices in showing faith and pouring billions of dollars into preparing for CWC 2007 with no immediate guarantee of regaining that money during the tournament.

It is therefore imperative that we put systems in place that will ensure the smooth delivery of CWC 2007, one which will last in the memory of our guests for a lifetime.

In our case, it requires a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, federations and associations to implement programmes that will fully engage our guests for the duration of their stay here.

It is the view of most Guyanese that in order for this event to be a successful one, all concerned will have to pool their resources and expertise to make the occasion a memorable one which will see matches in the Super Eight Group.

Obviously, investors would not want to see such massive preparations restricted to just one occasion, but rather the opening of a tourist industry that would catapult this country up the list of destinations that can attract massive tourists whether it is for eco-tourism or just vacationers longing to see somewhere different and pure. It therefore means that those entities charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the fans have a good time keep focus of their needs and plan additional events that will have them fully entertained.

A national strategy involving sports personnel should be an immediate priority with the Ministry of Sports, taking the leadership role.

Apart from the sports agenda, plans must be made to showcase our culture as well, since this is also an integral aspect of highlighting our country and with such diverse ethnic groups, a lot can be shared.

It must not be left to one or two ethnic groups to be part of this plan; efforts must be made that will allow all of them to display their culture in its original form. That could be done by organizing cultural shows with the different groups exhibiting their talent and way of life on particular days.

Visits to the various communities that are dominated by the individual groups can also be incorporated into a package and be executed by tour operators or even the Ministry.

One of the primary aims in all of this is to guarantee that at the end of their stay, fans leave here with a wonderful and positive image of Guyana that could reverberate back home and beyond when they return and bring huge dividends for those who chose to stay and invest in this beautiful country.

Time is of utmost importance and the newly-appointed Minister should arrange to meet the heads of those associations and key players in the various communities to formulate plans that will allow us to be excellent hosts that rival and possibly exceed the more established tourist countries and put us on the map as a premier destination when the World Cup would have ended.

It is not an easy task since countries like Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda are all well established tourist destinations, but with a concerted effort, we can surpass them with what we have to offer. Let us strive to work together to meet this challenge.