“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” – Ephesians 4:16

It was reported in the news recently that THE CARIBBEAN has received another passing grade from International Cricket Council’s (ICC) CEO Malcolm Speed and President Ehsan Mani for the progress made so far with preparations for next year’s Cricket World Cup”.

The positive report focused on the ticketing systems and venue preparation (the stadia, the pitches and outfields) that were in place, but warned that the next few months are vitally important. They concluded that they expected to see “a lot more progress” on their next Caribbean visit in August 2006 and advised that the complexity and the difficulty of the task facing the West Indies Cricket Board and ICC CWC 2007 Inc. should not be underestimated.

Chris Dehring confirmed that “We have a very strong team across the Caribbean working diligently 24 hours around the clock… It is a very strong collaborative effort between the ICC and ourselves at Cricket World Cup to deliver this event”.

Reports like these, which include contingency plans in the event of damage during the 2006 hurricane season, should fill the hearts of West Indians with increasing confidence that the World Cup will be staged successfully in the Caribbean. However, that is only part of the challenge.

Barbadian manufacturer Trevor Clarke was the stimulus for this column as he “bent my ear” while I was waiting to board a BWIA flight to Trinidad for a short grandchildren visit last Monday. His issue was centred around “who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the Cricket World Cup staged in the Caribbean”. Even though Trevor’s position might be primarily polarized towards the benefits from the Cricket World Cup to indigenous potentially emerging Caribbean business persons, I share his concern. I would like to take a more holistic view, representing Caribbean stakeholders, to the return on investment to the people of the region. Who will benefit and how much net foreign exchange will be left in the region?

It was reported in the Jamaican press recently that Jamaica’s trade and investment facilitation agency (JAMPRO) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Jamaica Cricket 2007, sought to paint a picture of the short, mid- and long-term prosperity that Jamaica is set to receive during and after two months of World Cup cricket. These JAMPRO presentations came in the wake of recent criticisms from the Opposition.

The Government responded that Jamaica is investing US$105 million into CWC 2007. The infrastructure improvement for the two venues is just over half of this sum. The rest is being spent by a number of agencies on infrastructural improvements that have to do with other related physical infrastructure, developing the business connection way forward into the year 2012, as well as some additional expenditure by the Jamaica Tourist Board to advertise Jamaica as a tourist destination.

JAMPRO has developed the Jamaica Cricket Legacy Programme Vision 2012: Building a legacy for Jamaica, that will capitalise on the huge economic spin-offs that the mega event will present. In light of its mandate, JAMPRO has created a legacy strategy titled Vision 2012 Brand Jamaica, which is designed “to look beyond the closing final match of the event and is directed towards outcomes in 2012, while leveraging immediate opportunities around the time of the event”.

JAMPRO’s role in the implementation of the legacy programme includes: (1)Overall management and leadership, (2) Facilitation and secretariat services for the Legacy Advisory Group, (3) Development of (Business) Brand Jamaica, (4) Design and execution of business components – Caribbean Business Club – Caribbean Business Opportunity Service – Jamaica Investment Attraction Programme – Creative Industries. JAMPRO has set out to reposition Jamaica on the international market with “its investment and trade identity and selling proposition”.

JAMPRO has estimated returns of the order of US$9 million in respect to ticket sales, an increase in exports of US$198 million and US$400 million in foreign direct investment to the period 2012. Over the 59 days of CWC 2007 with 1.3 billion viewers JAMPRO is expecting the media exposure to be conservatively valued at US$102 million. Jamaica’s legacy initiatives are being measured alongside several mega events hosted in recent years in Australia. At the turn of the century, Australia has grown more into a prime destination for investors, tourists and hosting big international events.

This cricket event offers an opportunity that is far greater about Jamaica than it is about cricket. It was noted that these projections on returns could be much higher five years from now, as we now know that the Caribbean has been selected to host the 2010 ICC Champions Trophy.

What is happening in the other seven countries, which are jointly hosting the World Cup? Is it just enough to say that there will be legacy benefits which will provide a handsome return to justify the huge sums being invested by the taxpayers, or should we have a legacy benefits Strategy and Action Plan to ensure a sustainable future for our grandchildren. What can we learn from Jamaica’s initiative and how can each part of the region collaborate and build itself up in love?