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St Lucia looks to the skies

Martin Gough | 12:54 UK time, Saturday, 24 March 2007

Martin GoughSt Lucia – It quite often rains in the morning here but not as heavily, or for as long, as it has today. As I arrived, dark clouds shrouded the Beausejour Stadium, with officials darting between the light marquee covers that have so far just offered shelter from the sun.

As the scheduled start time approaches, the rain has stopped – although there are still some threatening clouds - and we are all waiting to see how long England and Kenya will have to wait to start their must-win game.

This is the first time in a fortnight that it has been better weather for ducks than for tourists and the generally good weather must be a relief to the island’s tourist board, which is hoping for a bonanza on the back of the exposure St Lucia has gained from cricket.

The World Cup boom that was widely forecast has so far failed to materialise. There are no cruise ships in the harbour to cater for the extra fans. In fact, hotel rooms are still easily available.

No game so far has been close to filling out this ground, which has expanded its capacity to 21,000, and the local organising committee can only hope the semi-final is a better draw, even though it will be difficult for travellers to plan ahead for that game.

Tourism minister Allen Chastanet was quoted this week in the Star newspaper, predicting there would be fewer visitors this season than normal, with regular visitors frightened off by the threatened influx of cricket fans.

President of the St Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, Silvanius Fontenard said: “We are just hoping that the exposure that the country gains from hosting the games will serve us in good stead.

“I guess that is an optimistic position that we have to take at this point and hope that it will bring some benefits in the long term because in the short term clearly there have been more losses than benefits.”

The St Lucia Tourist Board has been throwing its weight into advertising the island on the back of the tournament, organising a media beach party on Friday night.

Even on the biggest of nights out, I have never before seen a man limbo dancing under a flaming pole with a female companion around his neck.

Tourist board director Maria Fowell admitted to the Star that visitor numbers may have been “over predicted” but insisted there would be long-term rewards.

“The St Lucia Tourist Board was able to go out over the last two years and reach different target audiences that they perhaps may not have been able to reach initially,” she said.

For most of this last fortnight, the island has proved the perfect host. Perhaps the tourist board could have a word with the rain gods.

Comments  Post your comment

Wonderful island atmosphere has been tarnished by the foolishness of the ticket prcies for locals as well as the strange retraint of Caribbean excuberance at games. We went to three games and in sad truth the atmosphere felt too tepid. The caribbean is about fun cricket not ICC filtered cricket.

  • 2.
  • At 02:22 PM on 24 Mar 2007,
  • Trevor Broughton wrote:

Everyone loves an underdog (unless it's their team being beaten). Everyone except Jonathon Agnew that is, who thinks the Cricket World Cup should be restricted to the major teams and thinks it a shame that Ireland and Bangaladesh have had the temerity to knock out higher ranked opposition. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the whole essence and mystique of cup competitions in any sport. If a team are good enough on the day, they get through, if not they're out.

St Lucia looks to the rain, sleepy weather, ducks, tournament. Visitors frightened? Right.
St Lucia has gained from cricket? I don't think so, they haven't win to much, St Lucia will be always the same.

  • 4.
  • At 08:54 PM on 24 Mar 2007,
  • Deborah Emmanuel wrote:

The ICC need to rethink their attititude to the World Cup. The caribbean flavour has been tarnished by their stage management, their unrealistic predictions about numbers etc. They should have focused their attention on selling packages to the world cup fans, and left the locals to show them how west indian cricket matches feel - its about the party as much as the cricket.

Good on Flintoff, he reminded everyone its about having fun as well as the cricket - o.k. he came to do a job and should have played later, but you can still have fun here, enjoy a drink (of your choice not Pepsi when we like Rum and Coke) or KFC when we like roti and stewed chicken/fish and rice.

Leave the cultural bit to the locals, get your money from the televisation. Where are the local sponsors, where are Piton, Bounty, Cable & Wireless, BOSL? They are not "world names" but they support us when you aren't here, and we have some great events because of them. Give them their dues. Also they are the ones looking after you when the matches are over.

  • 5.
  • At 03:10 AM on 15 Apr 2007,
  • chris wrote:

this cricket series have not been understood by many. it is not the pancea to the economic challenges in the caribbean. st.lucia has met its objective in providing the services required, the rest depends on how the authorities capitalise on the opportunity provided. now let me get back in the warm sea water.

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