Barbados stands to reap not only economic benefits from the staging of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Twenty20 tournament next year, but to gain significant exposure on the international arena.

This was underscored recently by Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo.

Speaking about the rationale for hosting the preliminary matches and the final, the Sports Minister explained: "Barbados has sought to capitalise on its reputation as a cricketing nation… We have produced some of the greatest cricketers the world has ever seen and we sought to capitalise on that tradition in seeking to host some of the events associated with the ICC’S Twenty20, next year."

Dr. Byer Suckoo added: "The matches that we are hosting include the final matches. Those are the games that will draw the biggest crowds, so we know that we

will be seeing an increase in our tourist arrivals at that time and associated with that, of course, increased spending. So we know that Barbados stands to gain economically."

The Sports Minister pointed out that from a tourism perspective, hosting the competition was also a great opportunity to market Barbados. "In preparing to host these matches, [we are finalising an arrangement] with the ICC that will give us the designation as the official local partner. So, we get to promote Barbados every time the event is advertised, we get use of the logo and that allows Barbados to be marketed across the world leading up to the event next year," she stated.

Concerning plans to include the youth in the tournament, Dr. Byer Suckoo indicated that there would be ongoing efforts to build on the legacy of the 2007 World Cup by continuing the spirit of volunteerism. "The Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports is developing a national volunteer corps, specifically using our young people, but other people are welcome as well …It’s going to engender in our young?? [people] a spirit of national pride, a spirit of community and that spirit of volunteering," she stressed.

The Minister mentioned that government was looking to the future, since the games would be beneficial to the overall development of sports in the island. "We expect that we will be improving the capacity of the Kensington Oval, as well as the capability of the management of Kensington Oval to be able to host more local, regional and international events there," she outlined.

And there are big plans to stage other international fixtures here. "In 2010, Barbados is proud to be hosting the International Boxing Association’s Womens’ World Boxing Championship.?? And that event has now taken on greater significance because the International Olympic Committee has declared that women’s boxing is going to be on the 2012 Olympic card and that means the event being hosted in Barbados next year is going to be an Olympic qualifier … Again, this will give us an opportunity to prove to the world that Barbados is capable of hosting and managing an event. We’re also negotiating to host some water sports events as well. ??There is a big sailing event that’s on the cards, but more of that will come later," the Sports Minister disclosed.

Speaking about the overall plans of staging international fixtures, Dr. Byer Suckoo urged Barbadians to be supportive.??

"I want Barbadians to realise that the sporting events that Barbados is hosting in 2010, and in the future, not least of all the ICC Twenty20 cricket tournament, are an opportunity for Barbadians to show the world what Barbados has to offer and I want to encourage them to come out and have fun… The prices have been reduced and Barbadians are going to be allowed to bring their own flavor to the event," she remarked.

Tickets for the games are priced as low as US$5 for preliminary matches and up to US$40 for the finals. They go on sale in the region from November 1 and the rest of the world on November 15.

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