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TTCB fears tourism opportunity lost

CONCERNS are being expressed that Trinidad and Tobago will not be in the best position to benefit from the opportunities to promote itself to a worldwide audience during the upcoming 2013 Caribbean T20 Championships.

In a press release, yesterday, the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) said that apart from the Ministry of Sport who partnered the TTCB in producing a successful bid, other state agencies have been lethargic in grasping this tailor-made opportunity to brand T&T as a desirable tourist destination in the eyes of the world and also as a hub of sports related activities in the Caribbean.

The 2013 Caribbean T20 Championships will get under way next Sunday, January 6, at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.

TTCB officials fear that the country will be missing a golden opportunity to showcase T&T to the world, especially since Carnival, dubbed the "Greatest Show on Earth", is mere weeks away.

One of the major proposals put forward by the TTCB was the setting up of a Carnival Village at the Oval over the seven days of cricket.

It was felt that masqueraders in their spectacular costumes and other highlights of the Carnival would have given a big boost to the country's tourism thrust during television coverage of the cricket by leading American cable channel ESPN, who has exclusive rights to the tournament.

The TTCB had pointed out that a Carnival Village at the Oval had the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people all around the globe.

The promotion of the country's biggest national festival, unlike any other in the world, would have been a major public relations coup, the TTCB felt, and at a fraction of what it would normally cost the country on such a global scale.

"We must bear in mind that the 2013 Caribbean T20 Championships will be seen around the cricket world live in North America, Europe, and Down Under even," said a high-placed TTCB source.

He said the TTCB has made numerous overtures to government agencies to partner with them in this regard, and to date there has been a lukewarm interest by the T&T tourism officials.

He said the successful TTCB bid was based on a partnership, with Carnival coming just after the regional T20 competition.

"Just think of how beneficial it will be to have our Carnival bands, artistes and music exposed to the world at this time. This is a chance of a lifetime for our tourism sector to display confidence in its products and partner with cricket to create a live and dynamic atmosphere at cricket.

"It is well known that we in T&T conceptualised and developed the party stand concept to the world. Now is our time to further cement this vibe.

"Let T&T and T20 be energetically linked. Our T20 cricketers already set the world alight with their play. Eight members on the West Indies World Cup winning team included stars such as Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and the Bravo brothers, Dwayne and Darren.

"Now it is the turn of our people to display our culture and our vibrant creative energies. Jump on board T&T. This train is on the move. Choose it or lose it," the top TTCB official warned.

T&T are the defending champions in the Caribbean T20, and are fancied to complete a hat-trick of regional tournament victories and earn an unprecedented fourth visit to the Champions League T20.

T&T, led by wicketkeeper/batsman Denesh Ramdin, begin their defence on Sunday against Jamaica after an opening ceremony at the Oval starting at 4 p.m.

The TTCB official said it is not too late for the tourism officials to salvage some lost ground, and capitalise on the golden opportunity presented by the hosting of the regional tournament here at home.

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