The 2007 World Cricket Cup could make the Caribbean’s reputation or it could break it,Êif it is not managed sensibly, warns former Australian Cabinet Minister, The Honorable Tom Roper.
ÊSpeaking from New York where he is preparing to address next week’s Trinidad session of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMExPress), former Minister Roper said major sporting events such as World Cups - football, cricket and rugby - are huge opportunities for countries or groups of countries to showcase themselves on the international scene to a world wide audience.
But he warns, “they must be well run,” noting that Montreal (1976) and Atlanta (1996) Olympics both entered into huge debts and finished with tarnished reputations. The Olympics inÊBarcelona, Spain (1992) and Sydney, Australia (2000), and World Cup FootballÊin Seoul, South Korea (2002) on the other hand are three recent examples of successful hosting of major events, boosting cities’ international reputations.
Roper notes that the 2007 World Cricket Cup is a crucial opportunity for Caribbean countries to promote themselves, their energy, creativity and international competitiveness. “This event must be seen as a spur to economic investment, a chance to ‘clean up’ problems which locals complain about and speed up infrastructure improvement such as roads, hotels and the environment ... the community must see itself getting a benefit,” he cautioned.
Roper, who during his ten years as a senior Government Minister held portfolios in Treasury, Planning and Environment, Health, Transport, Aboriginal Affairs, and Employment and Higher Education, said the event must also be integrated into the region’s economic strategy. “Seoul used the 2002 Football Cup to highlight its information technology capacity - holding conferences, arranging business and investment visits. What is the Caribbean showcasing?” he asked.
He lamented the fact that huge numbers of Australians visited the West Indies during the 2003 CricketÊTour, including senior business and government people, “yet, there was no programme for them apart from the cricket.”
Roper notes the 2000 Sydney Olympics gave AustraliaÊmulti-billion dollar boosts to infrastructure development, tourism and convention business, international media exposure, and new business. More than 16,000 international business people took part in New South Wales Government’s investment program.
Since his retirement from the Victorian Parliament (Australia), Tom Roper has been an active Board Member of the Washington D.C.-based Climate Institute, an advisor to government, business and NGOs on sustainability issues.Ê He is the Project Director of the Global Islands Energy Initiative which provides assistance to Small Island States seeking to introduce renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.