Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Irfaan Ali said his ministry will be gearing up to take advantage of the benefits of staging matches in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League T20 (CPL) cricket tournament following the news that Guyana is one of the six franchise countries which will host matches in this year’s tournament which runs from July 29 to August 6.
Ali, who along with Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Chairman of the Interim Management Committee for cricket in Guyana (IMC) Clive Lloyd and Consul General Michael Brotherson were members of the Guyana delegation to the launch held at the Country Club, Sandy Lane Hotel, St James, Barbados last week, said that he was excited to learn that Guyana has been chosen as a franchise country.
“Well I’m very excited for Guyana on the whole and I think that this has tremendous benefits for Guyana, for our tourism product and it would propel us to a course of action that would necessitate us to improve our facilities, improve our system and ensure that we are on this high level playing field that this competition would require,” he told Stabroek Sports in an invited comment.
Previously T20 competitions in the region were based on the country format which saw Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana dominating the competitions which were run by Allen Stanford’s organization and the West Indies Cricket Board.
The WICB, however, decided that after this year’s regional T20 tournament (won by Trinidad over Guyana) that they would scrap the country-based format and replace it with a new franchise-based type format.
Ali said that the new format could be more beneficial to Guyana’s tourism product because of its potentially global reach.
“This competition has great global reach. It reaches a significant segment of the market that Guyana’s tourism product is geared towards. You know our product is more eco-based but we still offer a lot of what the rest of the Caribbean offers. Most of the ecotourism comes from Europe, comes from Asia and I think that this would allow us to reach that target market,” he said.
CPL investment worth it
Although some of the details of the inaugural tournament are yet to be disclosed, Ali was still upbeat about the upcoming tournament stating that it was a worthy investment.
“I think that it is an investment that is worth every single cent and the government and the tourism sector would be definitely embracing this event in totality,” he said.
“We will be putting a lot of effort and incentive into this. It has tremendous potential of bringing people into Guyana. Imagine us having six games at home and I know I have spoken to a lot of people in the private sector and I know this event, this format is also stimulating a lot of interest in the private sector. The event will also be held around a time when we have a lot of other events that will complement it you have the Jam Zone weekend, you have Rodeo, you have Regatta, you have Car Racing and I think the organisers are excited about this because they don’t want it to be a stand alone event. They want this to fit into a stream of events and a stream of activities that would sustain it. That would make it into a big entertainment, tourism product, to cover a span of 30 days,” Ali declared.
Need for legislation
Ali feels that in order for the Caribbean to take advantage of the influx of overseas visitors some type of travel legislation is needed.
“One of the important things that not only Guyana but the rest of the host countries have to look at immediately is the ease of access between the countries. You can remember during Cricket World Cup (2007) there was legislation, the Sunset Legislation, where persons just needed to check in in one area…..that will definitely need to be on the agenda.
The WICB has scheduled the tournament in its window period – a time when the senior team will not have any international commitments – thereby allowing its marquee players to be able to participate in the tournament.
Six players namely Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard of Trinidad and Tobago, Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle of Jamaica and West Indies captain Darren Sammy of St Lucia were unveiled as the franchise players although the franchises are yet to be disclosed. Also excited too about the tourism prospects was Minister Anthony who stated that, like Cricket World Cup 2007, the hospitality industry stood to benefit.
“When you have billions of eyeballs looking at your country whether it’s a one minute display of your country, the potential for tourism is tremendous. It would not be a minute if we are hosting games so the value that that would bring, that the World would know about our country, would be tremendous. So, from a tourism point of view I think it would be a great thing and then once we can regularize games coming to Guyana, I think a lot of people in the hospitality industry would want to invest in more rooms and it all started with cricket by the way, because in 2007, in preparation for Cricket World Cup, we invested and developed a whole set of rooms. If this is going to bring in a whole lot of people into the region, into Guyana, then obviously it would be incentives to develop more hotel rooms. This tournament offers regularity because you see they’ve already planned three years down the line,” said Dr. Anthony.
WICB Corporate Com-munications Officer Imran Khan said that that tournament will take place at a time when a lot of Guyanese who live abroad will be coming into Guyana.
“We have a large Diaspora outside of Guyana. All Guyanese are attracted to cricket. This will stimulate a lot of our own traffic coming back home around this time every year and it fits into that period where people normally go on their vacation and so I think it is exciting news. This is a wonderful way of exposing Guyana, of promoting and selling our product and our markets to a wider audience and I think we will definitely work closely with the organizers to do everything possible to be ready to host these games,” Ali ended.