Marry cricket with tourism
The ruling Barbados Labour Party and the West Indies cricket team have one common thread: the recent taste of sweet victory.
It’s a feeling not lost on new Cabinet Minister Marsha Caddle, who alluded to it during her feature presentation at the Cricket West Indies/West Indies Players Association awards ceremony at Hilton Barbados on Wednesday night.
“Cricket West Indies president Dave Cameron mentioned that the winning streak for the West Indies was on its way back and I would like to think that my presence (Wednesday night), along with Minister King, certainly acts as an indicator of a brand new victory and what it feels like, smells like and looks like,” she said to much applause from an audience that included former Test players Franklyn Rose, Ridley Jacobs, Nixon McClean and Patterson Thompson.
Caddle, the Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said her Government had no time to be caught up in the euphoria of that crushing 30-0 triumph at the May 24 polls.
“The truth is, that brand new victory has not given us much time to have a honeymoon period because we have been as a Government less than a month, [and] my colleagues having been saying that it feels more like a few years because what has confronted us here in Barbados is really something that is confronting us as a region and it has to do with how we diversify our brand and how we marry the things that make us Barbadian and make us West Indian.
“Cricket and sport is a big part of how we do that and so we have said as a new Government that there are some things that we have to do differently when it comes to how we invest and the types of things in which we invest, where we invest at one stage of people’s lives,” she said.
More than an industry
Caddle said that cricket and sport were more than just an industry.
“Cricket and sport also represent a way for us to signal to young people that there is something else they can do with their talent.
“One of the things that we have done during the two years on the campaign trail is that we have to better be able to integrate sport into education and to invest from those early levels in sport as a viable industry for young people. It is something that we have not done enough of and it is something that the Government intends to do going forward,” he said.
The new Member of Parliament for St Michael South Central called for greater linkages between cricket and other areas of industry and investment such as tourism.
“Tourism, for example, has to be able to benefit more greatly from what is happening with cricket. We feel that as a region, we have not been able to marry sufficiently the tourism sector, what we offer, with cricket and other sporting activities.
“Certainly, the aim of this Government is to grow the tourism product and showcase sport as an economically productive sector and to use it to increase the tourism revenue that we are able to seek in the region,” she said.
Caddle said there has to be a greater thrust towards making the Caribbean a sporting hub for international events but for that to happen it was important to make the right investments in infrastructure and in our people.
“We have historic cricketing grounds in this region and they have to be maintained. We need to showcase them not just as venues for sporting activities but we also have to showcase the rich history and the legacy that has made West Indies cricket what it is and made us as West Indian people who we are,” she added.