“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” – Proverbs 29:18

Last week Texan billionaire Allen Stanford unveiled a US$ 26 million one-year cricket programme, which he hopes will contribute to the revival of West Indies cricket. He was reported as saying ‘What we cannot do is to sit on our behinds and let what is happening continue. I am approaching this as a business which professional sport is’.

His vision for the renewal of the West Indies cricket industry, which will feature a 20/20 Cricket tournament at Stanford’s ground in Antigua next August, is independent of the WICB. The tournament will feature 17 English speaking nations from Bermuda in the North to Guyana in the South and includes the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands. The leading industry in all of these 17 nations is the tourism industry and hence this new vision for cricket must be seen in the context of development in the sports tourism business.

Next week the Heineken Kalalu World Music Festival to be held in St Lucia from December 01 to 04 2005 will be launched in Barbados to apprise the Barbadian press and travel community of the headliners who will be taking part in the festival. They include Hugh Masekela from South Africa, José Alberto and El Canario from the Dominican Republic and Orquesta Sensaccion out of Cuba. Also included are Idrissa Diop from Senegal, Emeline Michel from Haiti, KELELE – the all star Soukous band from the Congo, Yerba Buena from Venezuela, Sekouba Bambino from Guinea, Ferro Gaita from Cap Verde, Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca from the Congo, and home grown talents Blue Mungó, Phsyco Key and Ronald “Boo” Hinkson.

This festival is timed to take full advantage of pre-season airfares and off peak hotel rates. It has already been launched in New York, Atlanta, Toronto and Trinidad &Tobago and after Barbados the next stops will be London and Miami. This new initiative, spawned by Festival producer Adrian Augier, is promoted by the fledgling St Lucia Festival Company, as a part of the culture tourism business.

These are two examples of the types of tourism linkage (sports and culture) vision that are required if the people as a whole ‘are not to perish’. It is not good enough for some “that keepeth the law to be happy” because this exacerbates the holistic wealth divide.

In order to promote these events so that they contribute to sustainable tourism, the mass media must be involved. The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) ( on sustainable tourism, is an excellent vehicle to continually discuss and promote these events among journalists. Three such CMEx events are scheduled to take place in New York, St Kitts and the Bahamas before the end of the year.

But let us get back to the Stanford vision. It is stated that this will be an annual event but does this mean that Mr. Stanford will fund it to the tune of US$28 million per year or is he providing the initial seed capital and establishing a vision for others to follow? I would like to think the latter is the case and that it should be a wake up call for the public and private sectors in these 17 countries to take the ball and run with it.

After all, is an average annual investment of only US$1.7 million per country not manageable, by a joint effort of the public and private sectors, to promote our major industry? There has already been a massive investment commitment in the context of the ICCWCC 2007 event by the participating governments. Surely there is a connection between the vision of Stanford and the much touted legacy benefits that are expected to accrue after the World Cup Event is over.

In the case of Barbados, it has been reported that the recent 3% tax on selected imports to create an Export Development Fund is expected to yield US$11 million and surely Barbados’ share, at least in the first instance, could partially come from that source and then be programmed in the National and private sector budgets thereafter as the benefits begin to accrue. Similar strategies can, presumably, be adopted by the other 16 countries.

It is extremely laudable that Allen Stanford has involved his cricketing Hall of Fame greats in this new vision. He has indeed appointed a Board which composition appears to be exclusively made up of members of the Hall of Fame. As successful a businessman as Mr. Stanford is, I am sure that the organizational structure for this new business of an Annual cricket 20/20 tournament would be much more sophisticated than this and that an Executive Management committee which has a more balanced range of business skills than may be found among the members of the Board will be introduced to manage the process while still being accountable to the Board.

Of course the members of the Hall of Fame are in an exemplary position as far as proposing policy for the development of West Indian cricket in general. When a business has access to large sums of money it is mandatory that commensurate management expertise complements the process if success is to be achieved.

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