After setting ticket prices so high that Caribbean fans gave up and decided to watch on television – Cricket World Cup organizers are now planning to woo the local audience with a last-minute advertising campaign.
Although Barbados has sold out the last few matches, some of the earlier matches in places like Antigua have not yet sold half the tickets.
Obviously, overseas sales are not up to expectations in some venues. Blame the late CARICOM visa announcement, or blame The Ashes or whatever you will – whatever the causes, there’s not a dry armpit or a solid night’s sleep to be had on the CWC organizing committee…
… or should there be by members of the various governments that have bet the farm on a successful Cricket World Cup.
Cricket World Cup rallies locals to close gap in ticket sales
San Juan (Puerto Rico), Jan 31. (AP): Six weeks before the start of the cricket World Cup, tournament organisers are rolling out a last-minute advertising blitz in the Caribbean to boost sagging ticket sales.
About half the seats for matches in the nine host countries are still available, and officials are rallying local fans to take up the slack once over-the-counter ticket sales begin on Thursday.
“It’s going to depend on local support,” chief ticketing officer Delroy Taylor said. “We’re expecting the people of the Caribbean will come through in this last phase.”
The host nations have spent millions of dollars on new stadium, roads and other improvements ahead of the tournament, billed as the largest sporting event ever in the Caribbean. Gaps in the stands could sour what many of the tiny countries prize as a rare moment in the global media spotlight.
Not all venues are struggling – hosts of later rounds are already turning fans away from some matches, including the final in Barbados.
But other countries, including Trinidad and Tobago and St Kitts, are worried because they lack high-profile contests.
As many as 1,00,000 tourists are expected during the March 11-April 28 tournament, and foreigners account for many of the tickets sold. When sales resume on Thursday after a two-month hiatus, organisers hope for a surge of sales to locals.
“In terms of our culture, we really are a last-minute people,” said Roxanne Morris, commercial manager for the Jamaican organising committee.
A new strategy aims to energise the Caribbean, first-time hosts of the tournament, with a barrage of advertisements over the first three weeks in February. Ticket centres will hand out World Cup posters, bumper stickers, and CD’s with the tournament song – “The game of love and unity,” by local artists including Jamaican-born Shaggy.
Over a dancehall beat, the lyrics drive home the message: “This is it, one big game, that you cannot miss/ No matter who you are – everyone’s on the list.”
Even rural villages are targetted.
A road show in Antigua, which has yet to sell half its tickets for six Super 8 matches, will sell tickets at stops throughout the countryside. In Trinidad, well-known calypso artist Shurwayne Winchester is performing at free concerts with a “cricket caravan” to promote the World Cup.
A lack of widespread Internet access may have prevented people in poor Caribbean nations from buying tickets earlier, Taylor said. Prices range from $15 to $90 for single matches in the group stage, and $25 to $100 for the Super 8 round.
Many hotels report cricket fans from overseas, particularly the United Kingdom, have snapped up all their vacancies. But critics of a special visa regime argue it has discouraged other foreigners. Designed to facilitate travel among host countries, the policy treats them as a common space during the tournament with one visa accepted by all.
Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaican Hotel and Tourism Association, said fans from countries like Australia that would not have needed a visa have likely been turned away by the hassle and $100 cost.
In the group stage, played in St Kitts, Trinidad, St Lucia, and Jamaica, sales have been strongest for matches involving the home-team West Indies and powerhouses like Australia and India. The top two clubs from each four-team group advance to the Super 8 round, set for Antigua, Grenada, Guyana and Barbados.
On the day of the final, Barbados expects 14 cruise ships to call on its port, with hundreds of yachts ferrying fans from nearby islands. Those without tickets can expect a carnival-like atmosphere with parties and big-screen televisions outside the stadium, said Terry Mayers, a spokesman for the Barbados organising committee.
One key factor in locals’ excitement, organisers say, will be the performance of the West Indies, which will seek its third championship since winning the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979.
“We need for them to do well,” Morris said. “If we can get that kind of positive energy, hopefully it will translate into a positive turnout.”
… read the original article at The Hindu (link here)