Tourism stakeholders awaiting word

by Kimberley Cummins

Tourism stakeholders are in limbo over the Caribbean Premier League.

The inaugural cricket tournament is expected to be held in the Caribbean between July 29 and August 26 this year, but so far parties in the tourism sector, who were expected to gain for its hosting, told Barbados TODAY they were unaware of its present status.

Speaking with this newspaper via telephone this afternoon, Manager of Sports at the Barbados Tourism Authority, Gregory Armstrong, said that as early as last week they met with the Barbados Cricket Association as a follow-up meeting to the one they had with Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and his Permanent Secretary, Shelly Carrington, but at the moment they were awaiting word from the West Indies Cricket Board to get them “on track” with the its current standing.

He said: “It has got us in a little limbo. We’ve been instructed by the Ministry [of Tourism] to get on board, [but] now we have to wait to hear what is expected of the BTA, so I can’t give you too much information.

“This is something we are excited about… Some of the top players have already committed and from the experience of [the International Cricket Council] events, the World Cup…, this will augur well for the Caribbean and Barbados. If you watch the [Indian Premier League] and Canada and what they are doing — providing entertainment and spend, it is developing into a sports niche.

“Sports tourism is one of the four pillars we are expecting to grow the economy, this can only continue to enhance the destination as a premier sports destination and bring foreign exchange. It was proposed that we [Barbados] host the final leg of the tournament and that can show people we are capable of hosting world class events to make sure everything is world class and it will [encourage] people to come back,” said Armstrong.

While he was optimistic on the prospects of hosting the events, many hoteliers and travel agents Barbados TODAY contacted said they were unaware of the CPL coming to Barbados.

Executive Vice President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Sue Springer, noted that her organisation would not have made any plans for it since they knew nothing about such a league coming to the islands.

Management Consultant at Indar Weir Travel Centre, Indar Weir, on the other hand, said he was informed but they were still in the planning stages because information of the tournament had not been forthcoming so they had not yet finalised anything.

Having previously offered what he said was a highly successful Bajan Posse package, Weir said the CPL was a wonderful opportunity to revisit that and added any new offers for the tournament would be highly dependant on where the games would be held and what attracted Barbadians.

Weir noted he believed the hosting of the event was a good opportunity and he hoped it would benefit the West Indies players, the sport and the fans.

The month-long tournament is expected to feature 90 top-ranked cricketers matching their skills in 32 matches to be broadcast worldwide. Six franchise countries — Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago — are each expected to field a team that will include a maximum of four international players, four players under the age of 23 and one local and one international franchise player. When the event was launched in February this year, Founder and Chairman Ajmal Khan said the CPL would showcase the beauty and talent of the Caribbean to the world. With the best cricketers from the West Indies playing alongside their international counterparts, coupled with celebrity appeal from Hollywood, Bollywood and local and international music talent with a carnival type atmosphere, it was “sure to draw the attention of current and new cricket fans across the globe”, he contended.

He also spoke to the anticipated “massive” economic development benefits of the tournament for the region.††

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