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Macau film awards hard act to follow

Adrian Loveridge

Macau film awards hard act to follow

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In the first week of this month a mission left Barbados for Macau, a special administrative region of China, to attend the 13th International Indian Film Awards (IIFA) ceremony that took place on July 5.
Headed by Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, this public/private sector delegation was the brainchild of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The intention was to hopefully bring the event to our shores next, or in the future.
Macau, like many of the other venues where the function has been staged, is an extremely difficult act to follow. By reclaiming the land between two islands, a Las Vegas in the Orient was created that boasts so many attributes. Including the world’s largest casino, the Venetian Hotel has 3 000 suites and a conference facility that can seat 15 000 people theatre-style.
This year’s anticipated global television audience was estimated at 800 million and that’s before you add YouTube and all the other social media sites and conventional media coverage.
I am sure all those involved in the evaluation did a great deal of research prior to the visit, as clearly there are some real challenges if Barbados is successful in securing any bid.
For instance, when IIFA 2012 took place in Singapore, the attending actors alone occupied over 400 rooms in the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
 We then have to think about the awards ceremony itself, which has attracted up to 3 000 people while the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre can accommodate only 1 200 to 1 400 people seated in a single space.
According to the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex website, it can hold about 4 500 to 5 000 people. But would this number be seriously compromised when taking into account the space needed for what can only be described as the normal spectacular opening show.
Isn’t it time to look seriously again at solving the environmental issues at Needhams Point and take the plunge to build a truly world-class conference centre there?
I bounced this off a diehard ruling party supporter recently and he said: “Oh! that was a Barbados Labour Party idea; it will never happen in the lifetime of this Government.”
Frankly, should we care a damn, whose idea it was?
Was it a good idea or not? Yes!
The administration is currently cash-strapped, so is there another way?
What would be wrong with an entirely privately-funded, owned and operated facility? Our construction magnates have been very vocal about state-sponsored projects drying up. How many workers could be employed on the clean-up and fabrication?
And is there a creative way we could harness major players like Sir Kyffin Simpson and the SOL group of companies in the endeavour, through tax efficient inducements?
Ultimately, the trickle-down effect generated by a new meeting centre would benefit the tourism sector and many others.
It could also play a critical role in the revitalization of Bridgetown and piggyback off the potential benefits driven from World Heritage status.
We have already lost significant business share in the convention and incentive market to Trinidad.
As room stock and airlift rapidly increases in neighbouring St Lucia, are we just going to wake up one morning and find they have stolen the next thunder, having completed a complex similar to the one in Port of Spain.