Watson challenges the government to show the benefits of World Cup hosting

Opposition Senator Tricia Watson.

bcall the hard data!

That was the challenge presented to the government by Opposition Senator Tricia Watson regarding the merits of the previous Cricket World Cups held here, and the expected winnings of the upcoming series that culminates in Barbados on June 29. She said the people of Barbados are waiting to hear how the organization of the tournament will benefit them.

Speaking about the theme “sharing the burden and harvesting the premium” during the debate in the Senate on the ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies Bill 2024Senator Watson blasted the government for patting itself on the back for the changes it should have made to correct mistakes made during the 2007 Cricket World Cup and for “realizing” a loan.

Senator Watson, a former World Cup project manager for the cable and wireless sponsorship of the 2007 initiative, said the government at the time failed to capture the full benefits of the event, despite requiring an investment of around $200 million . Many of the historic benefits were not realized at the time, she explained, lamenting the lack of metrics that would come from such an event.

“Today we talked at a very high level about the benefits, but we didn’t quantify those benefits because they’re not quantifiable because we haven’t kept the data. We can talk about an increase in the number of tourists in a given month, but we cannot demonstrate how this has benefited our overall tourism development. This is a fact,” she emphasizes.

The opposition senator noted that the real question for the average Barbadian is “what is the benefit to me”.

Senator Watson said the “supposed” benefits of the 2007 staging were in tourism.

“What we note is that there is a continued focus in the figures on the number of arrivals, and we do not link the arrivals figures to expenditure in Barbados. Economists in Barbados have specifically said that we are not seeing the spillover effects of tourism in Barbados.

“We can’t show the numbers,” she told her Senate colleagues, adding that no one reports on cruise tourism spending and there is no tracking of visitors’ contributions to the local economy.

“Much of the value added to tourism takes place outside Barbados. And there are statistics that also indicate that tourism is a notoriously low-earning job for most people in that sector, second only to agriculture in Barbados.”

Senator Watson further asked: “Can we get the data to show the economic benefits to Barbados following the 2007 Cricket World Cup, apart from the rebound in the following months? And can we see the data that shows the benefits for Barbados after hosting the T20 tournament in 2010. Can we see the data?

“The only entity that owns this data is the Government of Barbados,” said Senator Watson.

Responding to the Opposition Senator’s questions and comments, Government Senator Dr Shantal Munro-Knight said the benefits of increased sales to vendors and those directly involved in the event could be assessed.

Senator Munro-Knight added that the recently reported real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.1 percent is also available to those who requested data.

While Senator Watson specifically called for the statistical information relating to the 2007 Cricket World Cup and the prospects for next month’s matches, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office emphasized that the increased turnover for fishermen in Oistins is also readily available to those seeking to quantify the benefits of the government’s investment activities.

“Obviously we would have the evidence, especially as it relates to tourism. I was very clear in identifying all the opportunities and benefits that entrepreneurs would get. That was part of the government’s deliberate design in organizing and developing the 2024 World Cup,” Senator Munro-Knight told the House.

She said that in addition to fishermen, people selling sweets and balloons would also know if their sales have increased. There will also be opportunities in the city and at Hayman’s Market, St. Peter, for average Barbados to benefit from, she added.

Senator Munro-Knight accused some of trying to “continually kick the gift horse in the mouth” and said the benefits package had already been outlined in previous debates in both houses of Parliament.

“There are a number of things that a government needs to do… and the benefits may not be immediate in the short term, but there are things we are doing for the long term,” she added.