The CPL another potential boon for Jamaica's tourism

Monday, May 06, 2019

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Much as we are pleased with the return of Mr Chris Gayle to the Jamaica Tallawahs, this newspaper is even happier that the Twenty20 cricket franchise and the Jamaican Government have apparently settled their differences.

Cricket fans will recall rumblings over the last two years suggesting that the overseas-based owners and controllers of the Tallawahs were extremely displeased with the level of support from the Government.

So much was the dissatisfaction that they were apparently toying with the idea of shifting their home base in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) from Kingston, possibly to Florida.

Indeed it will be recalled that last year three of five Tallawahs home games were played in Florida, instead of Sabina Park, much to the annoyance, frustration, and anger of Tallawahs' players and supporters.

News came on the weekend of a deal that will not only involve Mr Gayle returning to the Tallawahs after serving the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots for the past two years, but which will also see sponsorship support from the Jamaican Government and Pepsi-Cola Jamaica.

Crucially, all five home games will now be played in Jamaica.

Details of the arrangement with Pepsi-Cola Jamaica are apparently being kept out of the public eye, but we would not be surprised if that was the clincher for the Tallawahs' owners.

Certainly from the perspective of the Jamaican taxpayer, their Government — on the surface at least — appears to have come away well ahead in terms of financial spend.

Our reporter quotes Minister of Sports Ms Olivia “Babsy” Grange as saying the Jamaican Government “is committing $2.7 million to facilitate the hosting of the 2019 CPL T20 series in Jamaica”.

And further that, in addition, the Sports Development Foundation is providing support that will “facilitate the entry of equipment — which will be exported at the end of the series — valued at $5 million, and cash sponsorship of $4.6 million, and the purchasing of 60 tickets for all five nights, along with two boxes valued at $1.1 million”.

Those who have followed the extraordinarily spectacular growth of twenty20 cricket over the last decade, and its global television and related audio-visual reach, will readily recognise that in terms of the Government's announced expenditures, this deal is a 'steal'.

No wonder Jamaica's director of tourism, Mr Donovan White, appears to be so enthusiastic. Says Mr White: “This exciting format of the T20 attracts a whole new generation of people and fans from around the world, and it creates a big opportunity for tourism to ensure that we not only align ourselves, but position Jamaica...”

He also said that his team in Canada, the US and the Caribbean have already started pushing “to bring loads of travellers into Kingston for the CPL...”

Mr White knows that, globally, cricket — and in particular the T20 format — is among the fastest-growing sporting sectors in economically booming Asia especially. Visionaries in tourism should be looking well ahead at the possibilities.

Hopefully all concerned will play their cards right going forward.

More immediately, this newspaper wishes the very best for the aptly named Jamaica Tallawahs and the CPL.

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