St Kitts and Nevis’ government believes the hosting of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will help stimulate a tourism sector that has been dealt a severe blow by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Sports Minister Jonel Powell said he expected the popular Twenty20 tournament, scheduled to bowl off August 28, to have a positive impact especially on hotels and restaurants with a boost also anticipated for the services sector.
This, Powell said, would translate into increased employment at a difficult time when there was little economic activity due to pandemic.
“We have identified the fact we have been blessed and able to manage the COVID-19 situation very well here, and bearing in mind the substantial economic benefits that would flow from being able to host the entire CPL here in St Kitts and Nevis, particularly at a time when things are very slow because of the pandemic, we thought it to be a very prudent move to try and get the games here and we’ve been successful,” Powell said.
“Our tourism sector has taken a very hard hit like everywhere else in the region so to be able to get – I think the calculation is over a thousand rooms – at a point in time when those rooms would not necessarily be filled, is a good thing to have.
“To be able to have the entire CPL cohort here for some six weeks, we are looking at at the hotel rooms, the added staff that would need to be hired in order to take care of the capacity, the spillover effect in terms of restaurants and entertainment, the simple things such as catering, transportation – all of these things are opportunities for ordinary people here in St Kitts and Nevis to get jobs at a difficult time.”
Last year, Trinidad and Tobago hosted the tournament in its entirety as organisers were forced to resort to one territory due to the onset of COVID-19 in the Caribbean.
Figures cited by CPL indicated US$51.5 million in sponsorship value having accrued to Trinidad and Tobago throughout the period of the tournament.
In 2019, CPL said St Kitts benefitted to the tune of US$22.3 million in terms of “total economic impact”, with 5 964 hotel rooms filled during the five-match leg of the tournament.
And Powell said even though there had been costs associated with staging the tournament, those fell within the recently negotiated hosting agreement, and would be outweighed by the overall benefits to the country.
“It all (cost) would’ve fallen in tandem with our extension of the existing five-year hosting agreement,” he explained while speaking on Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest.
“It came to an end in 2020 so we would have renegotiated that for another five years, and so all of that was considered within the negotiations, and we’ve been able to work with CPL to offset a lot of costs that would normally arise – cost in terms of stadia agreements and rentals in particular.”
He continued: “We have obviously looked at all associated costs, confident that anything we may have had to outlay, we certainly expect to get back whether directly or indirectly.
“The type of spin-offs we’ve seen coming back to the people – the service providers, for example over the past years when we’ve had only five home matches, we can multiply that significantly and calculate what we think we can earn at this point in time.
“Our tourism product has taken a hit like everybody else, we generally do not have any tourists coming in now so to be able to generate this activity is significant.”
St Kitts currently has no active cases of COVID-19 with all reported 44 infections having recovered.
Health authorities have, however, kept strong protocols in place to mitigate against the spread of the virus and Powell said CPL would not be exempt.
“All persons coming in will be subject to all typical protocols so quarantine will be required, bearing in mind that we are at the moment reviewing our protocols even outside of CPL, as more and more persons become vaccinated,” he outlined.
“Whatever the national protocol is, that will apply in the CPL so persons will be required to present negative PCR tests three days before travel to St Kitts and Nevis.
“They will be required to quarantine and we are looking at options in terms of the necessary passports as it relates to COVID between now and then.”