(GuyanaChronicle)MANY persons have acknowledged and recognised the obvious, direct opportunities that flow from the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Cricket Carnival, but there is an unsung story, “an untold script,” that features thousands of Guyanese who have been able to derive significant benefits from Guyana’s staging of these events.
This was according to Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, during her remarks at a reception hosted by US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, on Monday, in celebration of World Tourism Day.
Guyana, in addition to hosting seven group games, three knockout matches and the Hero CPL final, is running, for the first time, Cricket Carnival which features a number of events and activities.
“Our commitment to securing the rights to the CPL finals was part of our strategy for inclusive development. We had our sights set not only on the primary revenue streams associated with the cricket itself, but also on capturing wider benefits that such an event could bring to a broad cross section of ordinary people in many sectors. Indeed this was the primary motivation for the twinning of cricket with carnival,” Minister Walrond related.
The minister said the government’s commitment to securing the rights for the hosting of the CPL final was part of a strategy for inclusive development.
Walrond said: “We had our sights set not only on the primary revenue streams associated with the cricket itself, but also on capturing wider benefits that such an event could bring to a broad cross section of ordinary people in many sectors. Indeed this was the primary motivation for the twinning of cricket with carnival.”
It is the commitment to inclusion that drove authorities to design the overall architecture of CPL and Cricket Carnival with its attached signature events over a two-week period.
According to Minister Walrond, this was done to ensure that there were opportunities for meaningful participation by small, medium and microenterprises right down to the individual sole proprietor. And those benefits were realised in all sorts of businesses.
For instance, there were advertisements for expressions of interest for Guyanese to provide bed and breakfast accommodation for some of the visitors.
The response, Walrond said, was significant, as close 150 expressions of interest were received, and of those, the government was able to certify almost 50 applicants to provide bed and breakfast accommodations for the CPL.
“Looking forward, we know that even with the planned expansion of our hotel room stock we will have similar demand next year and likely into the third year of the contract. And it should be evident that the benefits of this programme have the potential to readily extend beyond the CPL,” the minister underscored.
Additionally, the One Guyana Festival attracted well over 100 small vendors into a marketplace which featured thousands of patrons, allowing them a period of extraordinary sales that would have by far eclipsed their normal earnings.
The Regional Food Festival too on Main Street, had 51 registered vendors including participants from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Lethem.
“Once again, these small businesspeople were, by design, given affordable access to a marketplace for their products that afforded them extraordinary revenues for their businesses. Revenues that would otherwise not have been possible,” Minister Walrond said.
The benefits from the CPL also extended to the many entertainment and cultural events which brought earnings and exposure to artistes and promoters. Activities and events would have also benefitted ordinary providers of goods and services such as taxi drivers, restauranteurs, caterers, farmers and a whole host of Guyanese who, in all likelihood, number in the thousands.
“And CPL Cricket Carnival is but one event. Our plan is to consistently bring a number of such major events each year to our shores. Thus, with a deliberate policy of inclusion, aimed at delivering broad-based benefit, we incrementally increase the opportunities to a wide cross section of Guyanese for the benefit of the collective,” Minister Walrond said.
BENEFITS FOR ALL
She went on to say: “So Cricket Carnival then, exemplifies the philosophy and vision that grounds our approach to tourism development. That vision is for a sustainable tourism industry which benefits Guyanese in all 10 regions of our country. An industry where community-led tourism experiences exist alongside larger mass-based offerings, where our environment is preserved in an unspoilt state for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations and an industry where the benefits accrue equitably to all of our citizens.”
The ongoing events, in Walrond’s view, are a “very good example” that the government’s approach to social and economic development places them at the cutting edge of re-thinking tourism as it regards inclusion.
“I am happy to observe that we are already in the vanguard as regards the “re-thinking” that is needed in the tourism industry. Many of our core eco-tourism offerings take place in the open spaces that are envisioned in the re-thinking.
“The new emphasis on rural development is well exemplified by our community-based tourism. Most importantly, the targeting of broad-based benefit is reflected in our active development of tourism events to benefit all segments of the business landscape from the large firm to the micro-enterprise to the individual sole proprietor,” the minister said.