One of the biggest shocks at the Caribbean Marketplace in Puerto Rico is the estimated poor turnout expected for the Cricket World Cup in 2007 - down from an original figure of 100,000 to a mere 10-12,000. The revelation caused a gasp across the hall as the calculated cost to churn out the event seems greatly disproportionate to the revenue that will be gained from the tournament.
It was suggested by Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) President, Berthia Parle, that there may be a lack of rooms for the event, which is set to grab a global audience.
One solution may be to implement the use of cruise ships as make shift hotels for islands running below capacity.
“Stelios (EasyCruise owner) was down in St. Lucia and has suggested that he will make some of his cruise ships available for the event.” said the President, although how many would be available was unclear.
Although there are plans for new resorts on many islands there are fears that many will not be completed by 2007 owing to a lack of materials.
It was asked who would actually fund the cruise ships, as even though they may be available for the World Cup, where are islands going to find the 10 or 15 million necessary to facilitate usage?
“I can tell you who is not going to fund it,” smirked CHA Director General, Alec Sanguinetti.
He was also keen to suggest that members of the Caribbean Hotel Association are not “price gauging.”
By this he meant the members are not hiking up their rates during the event.
Another important issue was that of the necessity of passports for US visitors coming to the Caribbean - so that they can get back into America.
“People need to start applying tomorrow,” said Mrs. Parle. The deadline is January 2007.
A new logo was also unveiled, which will be used to brand the Caribbean as a destination. The brightly coloured emblem will be rolled out across 2006.
By Ben Kilbey