ECONOMIC BENEFITS FOR SOUTH ASIAN CO-HOSTS

TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Feb 21 - 27, 20
11

Last week the 2011 World Cup's multimillion pounds opening gala was held in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, with people wearing broad grins for having the revered honour for the country to host, for the first time in its history, the internationally popular event that takes place every four year.

Cricket lovers eagerly waited for the 2011 ICC World Cup. The privilege given to Bangladesh is redeeming for its local inhabitants, since the world cup's events are expected to give a big push to the tourism industry's growth. Numbers of tourists are expected to throng along the stadiums to relish the matches, obviously leading to massive generation of activities related to tourism and hotel industry in the country.

Bangladesh has shown its reverence to its tradition during the opening ceremony, as tri-cycles remained the highlight in the cavalcade of captains of 14 participating teams entering into the stadium sitting on them. The cricket world cup will continue for six weeks during which 49 matches will be played.

India will host the highest numbers of the world cup matches while Bangladesh plays second fiddle to it, which has latent opportunity for the country fighting poverty and struggling to stabilize economy since its separation from Pakistan in 1971.

India is said to dominate the commercial benefits from the world cup. The time will determine this only. Mentionable exit of Pakistan and India from world cup 2007 caused severe financial losses to their trigger-happy participants of many industries. Not others, alone broadcaster, advertiser, advertising agencies, and sponsors in India are eying for billions of rupees returns on millions of dollars investments in the present scores of events. Keeping finger crossed for India to break into the finals, ESPN Star that won the right to telecast matches, is said to hold slots for the end to ratchet up last moments' ad revenues. To the least, Indian economy is going to see a lot of money generation from ad revenues. As more as 25 per cent of total ad revenue of $2.41 billion would likely be earmarked to the sport this year, an analyst told Reuters. So far, total $150 million ad revenue has been generated, up 50 per cent compared to 2007 world cup's revenue. Notably, 2007 world cup was known for its making records of earning huge revenues for all stakeholders.

"Advertisers are increasing their budgets by more than 15 to 20 per cent to make sure they get eyeballs in both major cricket events this summer," the New York-headquartered news agency reported Sanjoy Chakraborty, chief executive officer of Dentsu Media.

Sri Lanka, the third co-host of the World Cup, is all set to welcome cricket players and fans from around the world. It, like Bangladesh, is also pinning concentration on the tourism industry as generation of foreign revenue. Many tour operators have cranked out appealing packages including visits to popular tourist attractions. Hoteliers are expecting significant upswing in tourists arrival with 150,000 heads projected to come to attend the matches from March 17th to 29th, hoping 90 per cent occupancy rate. This world cup's related surge would earn Sri Lankan hotel industry more than (Sri Lankan Rupees) LKR200 million compared to LKR150 million generated during 1996 world cup for Sri Lanka as a co-host. Large numbers of tour groups from Pakistan are booking hotel rooms to watch matches, according to a media report.

Asian nations won over the rights to co-host the 2011 world cup by 10 votes, outweighing bids of Australia and New Zealand.

As far as this world cup is concerned, Bangladesh is more prone to spruce up its image of lethargic people and wants to display the passion and liveliness local population holds when it comes to host such a mega event. The country has really proved this in the opening ceremony held at Bangabandhu National Stadium. The jamboree trampled down as close as 18 million pounds ($30 million) of Bangladesh Cricket Board and International Cricket Conference (ICC). Bangladesh is looking at the long term implications of such outlandish expenditures. First, it will earn money from spectators. Secondly, a wave of tourists and big brands like Nike, Adidas, Coca Cola, KFC, etc. will globalise the local economy to the benefits of people. Investments in tourism infrastructure created 150,000 new jobs in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is bestowed with fertile plains and imposing wildlife. It has limited numbers of airports in the major cities. Railway tracks spread over near 3,000 kilometres. However, boats are the most preferred means of transportations within the country.

Tourism industry plays a major role in the economy of Bangladesh. Its pleasant weather makes it a destination that can be travelled year-round. In past few years, Bangladesh's tourism industry has witnessed a robust growth and significant numbers of hotels, motels, amusement parks, restaurants, and resorts at tourist popular destinations such as Dhaka, Sylhet, Bogra, and Chittagong were constructed by the private sector. Especially, up and coming five-star resort near Sylhet covering more than 45 hectares area promises to be latest a tourist attraction. The government is also encouraging investments in tourism by implementing policy guidelines. Last year, Special Tourism Bill was passed declaring main tourist attractions as tourism-protected areas and taking strict actions against violators.

The cricket world cup is different in terms of appearance. From logos, mascot, costumes to ads and music, every thing is made to cash in on the mega opportunities lying in the cricket world cup tournament. This spectacle provides always an opportunity to participating stakeholders to make more than a billion people world over sensitise to income equity. The current event's mascot is an elephant to show the resoluteness and mania for cricket in South Asia. What lucks the money-minting 10th edition of the cricket world cup will bring for the poor people of Asian co-hosts remain to be seen.