“It is in cricket that we manage to express a sense of collective ownership that eludes us in many endeavours…in designing a development vision and strategy for the Caribbean, our policy makers need to capture the same hold on the imagination and passion that cricket does” – Excerpt from an address by Dr. Gillian M. Marcelle – www.caricom.org.

Counterpart International has staged yet another engaging event in the ‘Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism’ series. This time it was the innovative one-day version CMExPress which took place last Friday at the Courtyard Marriott in Port-of-Spain. This was the second CMExPress event, the first having taken place in Jamaica last November on the occasion of the UNFPA media awards presentation.

CMEx started in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in 2001 and was designed to bring Caribbean media personnel in touch with regional and international journalists and tourism industry professionals. It was thought that this interaction would strengthen the journalists’ knowledge of the industry and would contribute significantly to improving their communication skills when reporting on the sector. Since the Ocho Rios CMEx, events have been held in Nassau, Montego Bay (twice), Barbados and St. Lucia.

Over 90 people attended the Trinidad CMExPress. In addition to the international contingent there were representatives from the local media. In addition journalists from Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia , BVI and Grand Cayman availed themselves of the opportunity to hear Chris Dehring, Managing Director and CEO of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, who gave a comprehensive presentation on the ‘State of Play’.

He stressed that there was a master plan in place and that it was up to the individual eight destinations to do their part. Dehring commented that the Barbados Local Organising Committee had long since got their act together. Indeed the ‘PrepareBarbados’ launch took place last Saturday. He cautioned that the Trinidad &Tobago local organizing committee was far behind Barbados and that was some cause for concern.

The Ministry of Tourism in Trinidad and the Tourism Industrial and Development Company (TIDCO) fully supported the mounting of CMExPress. Indeed, the Minister of Tourism, Senator the Honourable Howard Chin Lee, himself attended the entire interactive session. Dehring made it abundantly clear that the ICC monitors the progress and the adherence to the plan and that if any of the participating territories did not meet the required minimum standards in a timely manner, as committed to by their respective Governments, the entire World Cup experience for the Caribbean would be in jeopardy.

The Attorneys General have been informed of their obligations to harmonise the legal environment on a timely basis. To delay this process would be to lose the opportunity to host the event. The formal implementation of CSME may be delayed without apparent consequence but the delay of critical World Cup activities could result in the shifting of the event to another part of the world.

Long queues at immigration and customs could delay cricket fans to an extent where they could be late for a match. Riots have not been unknown in cases like this. A visa system which expedites the freedom of movement of people therefore has to be implemented. If it can be implemented for the World Cup why can it not be left in place for the people of the Caribbean?

Significant event management sophistication will be required. Requests for proposals have already been prepared and contracts will soon be awarded in many event management areas. We need the best in the world which will in many cases be imported. The ICCCWC WI 2007 have however stipulated that Caribbean individuals and companies must be included in these bids where the expertise is available. This will undoubtedly mean a legacy of greater management expertise in the Caribbean.

Dehring indicated that this CMExPress meeting was the first place, apart from the ICC, where he was displaying the architects’ impression of the new stadia which will be constructed for the World Cup. A major challenge will be the legacy strategy for obtaining an effective and satisfactory return on investment after the event has taken place.

There is a major opportunity for entrepreneurial development. The potential net foreign exchange earnings and financial gains which can be made in a few weeks is mind boggling. Will it be realized to the benefit of the Caribbean?

Other topics which were discussed at CMExPress included pan-regional improvement of health, safety and security measures, intra- and inter-state transportation. Service excellence at the cricket World Cup could very well be the catalyst for the implementation of the CSME.

It was agreed that CMExPress was extremely successful and needs to be repeated time and time again from country to country as a major communications bridge between the ICCWCC and the people of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean policy makers should recognise that the significant harmonising of the legal environment; freedom of movement of people; management sophistication; upgrade in tourism physical plants and stadia; potential net foreign exchange earnings and financial gains; entrepreneurship renewal; pan-regional improvement of health, safety and security measures; and intra- and inter-state transportation logistics required for the successful staging of the ICC Cricket World Cup could be positioned as a platform for expediting the successful implementation of the CSME.