By Basil Springer

"Rawle Brancker, Chairman of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 board of directors, believes that plans are well advanced for the hosting of the prestigious event in the Caribbean. Brancker highlighted that the ICC CWC 2007 will benefit the entire region creating employment at various levels and earning foreign exchange.The impact will be felt well beyond 2007 with the development of infrastructure -- hotels, cricket grounds, roads, telecommunications" Guyana Chronicle, Sep 01, 2003.

The recent award of bids to the eight selected countries in the Caribbean as a venue for World Cup 2007 has stimulated a lot of interest in the Caribbean. I am no exception to this rule and was motivated to respond to an advertisement to attend a lunchtime lecture at the Frank Collymore Hall last Thursday. The presenter was Mr. Luther Miller, Director of Finance and Resource management and a seasoned tourism specialist from CTO and his subject was "The impact of World Cup 2007 on tourism", it was part of the University in the Community series.

Although the attendance was pretty poor in relation to the level of advertisement, there was a countervailing force of quality in the presentation made, the questions asked and the responses given by Mr Miller. The event was videotaped and I think that the joint organizers of the lecture, the Central Bank of Barbados and the School of Continuing Studies at UWI, should arrange to have it aired in its entirety on CBC television. It would be an excellent source of information for the general public in terms of garnering buy-in from all spheres of society.

Mr. Miller touched on issues related to air travel, accommodation, logistics management, food, immigration, customs, internal transportation, entrepreneurship, licensing, television, sponsorship, volunteerism and tourism linkages, giving some telling examples of an economy directly and indirectly dependent on tourism. His discourse was extremely comprehensive and what was not covered in the formal presentation was certainly addressed in response to the questions that followed.

I was unable to make it to the Chamber of Commerce lunch last Wednesday because of a competing event, but I understand from press reports and a colleague who attended that the Chris DeCaires/Stephen Alleyne combination did a good job in inspiring the private sector to seek innovative and other opportunities which would arise from the staging of World Cup 2007. In Thursday morning‚s Nation newspaper it was reported that Barbados could gain as much as five times the amount of money it invests in World Cup 2007. The government has pledged Bds$100 million and the estimate of return is based on a statistical model developed by World Cup 2007 Inc. which will manage the Barbados leg of the tournament. As I understand it, there are three primary sources of potential income i.e. ticket sales , tourists‚ expenditure and the legacy factor.

In my column two weeks ago I introduced the concept of the post World Cup vision and I would like to discuss this in the context of the formal legacy component which the organizers have identified. Their justification for this is based on historical evidence at previous Cricket World Cups, Soccer World Cups and Olympic games where the host countries benefited from the major event in their country for several years as a result of increased tourist arrivals and expenditure. In other words the tourists who had attended the World Cup made repeat visits to these destinations and the global television exposure provided a significant advertising fillip which resulted in this lingering benefit in tourism growth as a result of the main extravaganza.

Even though I understand the "legacy" argument, I think that there is another "legacy" component which can be superimposed on the efforts being made by the World Cup Organising Committee and which could give rise to another element of tourism growth, thus increasing even greater the legacy benefits from this exercise. At this point in time this is merely a vision but I think that it‚s worthy of pursuing with a view to converting the vision into action.

My thoughts are, how best can we use the augmented infrastructure, the expected increase in service quality, the enhanced logistics management skills, to introduce innovative tourism linkage projects which would result in sustained tourism growth. After all, the experts are saying that the benefit from the traditional legacy component will last for 5 or even 10 years and then it suffers a decline. The introduction of the innovative legacy component will not only boost the natural growth of the traditional legacy component but it will create a life cycle of its own to continue to boost tourism growth over a much longer period. As I think more about it, this innovative legacy component could produce significant opportunities in the commercialization and growth of cricket and other sports in Barbados and the Caribbean, as well as to take advantage of the augmented hospitality environment to exploit tourism linkages to the fullest.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -