Dehring in Damage-Control Mode
Sat, Jun 7, '03
Reeling from a barrage of negative publicity following the theft of US$10,000 worth of cricket equipment at Trinidad's Piarco airport, the man in charge of planning for the Windies World Cup 2007 (WWC 2007) has switched to damage-control mode.
Chris Dehring, managing director and CEO of WWC 2007, plans to make a trip to New York to meet with executives of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the WICB's public relations department is busy issuing press releases trying to downplay the Piarco incident as a one-off incident.
"...We regret that Mr. Marshallsea had such a bad experience and I know that the leadership of the tourism industry are continuously focused on raising the bar on service with the potential benefits of the Cricket World Cup providing a major incentive to this effort,? Dehring said, referring to the Australian journalist who broke the story about the kleptomaniacs at Piarco.
Even as details are emerging about widespread theft at locations throughout the West Indies, Dehring and the WICB spin-doctors are trying hard to focus attention on the fact that "the Caribbean continues to be a destination of choice for tourists from many parts of the world."
"[Dehring] is looking forward to discussing challenges facing the regional tourism sector to ensure readiness for WWC 2007," the WICB said of his planning meeting with the CTO.
He warned that the hosting of the World Cup would put every aspect of the Caribbean -- infrastructure and services -- under the "glare and scrutiny" of the international media, noting that it "will focus all of our minds on what needs to be accomplished."
At the CTO meeting, where Dehring will hold discussions with Ministers of Tourism of all Caribbean countries, hoteliers, airline industry officials, cruise shipping representatives and major tour operators, the responsibility of the private sector in the planning process will be on the front burner.
One of the biggest problems Dehring faces is convincing the private sector that heavy investment for the World Cup will provide a return on investment. The WICB and WIWC have made it clear the Caribbean governments must play a major role in spending to get top-class facilities in place by 2007.
But, with regional economies is terrible shape, it's a hard sell for a country (Guyana, for instance) to make a convincing case for spending big money on a new stadium when basic essential services like power and water are in desperate need of increased investments.
Dehring's planned trip to New York comes as the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago continue to pass the buck and deny responsibility for the theft of the cricket equipment twice from the Australians.
The Trinidad Guardian reported Saturday that Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) had expressed "deepest regret" over the incidents. "While the matter of security of airline baggage is outside the direct purview of the AATT, we are deeply concerned that such an incident could have taken place," the AATT siad.
"Equally disturbing is the possible sullying of Trinidad and Tobago's reputation as a safe and inviting port for visitors, given the level of international coverage attracted by the event," the AATT added.
The BWIA airline has also absolved itself of blame and the matter is said to be in the hands of Trinidad and Tobago's police department.