ADDRESS BY HONOURABLE PHILIP J. PIERRE
AG. PRIME MINISTER
MINISTER FOR COMMERCE, TOURISM, INVESTMENT
& CONSUMER AFFAIRS
AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH
ORGANIZATION OF SAINT LUCIA
20TH SEPTEMBER, 2005
Let me first thank members of he Commercial Opportunity Sector Team (COST) soon to be transformed into the Business Opportunities Organisation of St. Lucia (BOOST) for inviting me to make the feature address at this ceremony. While I am honoured to be given such an opportunity, I am pleasantly surprised, since it is a well-established fact that business people are not usually very impressed by interventions by Government or politicians in what they deem as their forte i.e. business as exemplified by the statement “Government cannot run a business”. Having said so, I will not attempt to lecture such an August body but share some brief ideas with you as to what I believe are the available opportunities for business and investment.
Please allow me this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Ernest Hilaire and staff for the work done so far, in making St. Lucia World Cup ready. I have been informed by Mr. Don Lorcabie that in many aspects St. Lucia is in an advanced state of readiness and among countries in the "blue" group. I am sure that this speaks volumes to the commitment of Ernest, his staff and various sector teams.
I also want to emphasize that the opportunities created by Government through an enabling environment, whether legislation or otherwise is merely an inducement for investment. People planning to invest whether through borrowing or savings, should take all the necessary precautions and perform their own analysis using well established international business and risk analysis tools. The preparation of proper business plans is another important detail which should not be overlooked. Let it not be said that Government was the cause of any failed business venture.
World Cup 2007 is one of the biggest world sporting events and is expected to attract more than twenty thousand people to St. Lucia for the actual weeks of the games and thousands more before and after the main event. The Government of St. Lucia has invested over $50 million to
ensure that the necessary infrastructure and support facilities are in place for the event.
An obvious need is accommodation and food for the visitors. By now you must be aware of the incentives offered in the accommodation sector and the soon to be announced Bed and Breakfast Incentives. While the former offers incentives to construct fifty rooms and above, the latter will deal with individuals desirous of adding rooms to their existing houses to accommodate guests. It must be noted that this is an international event and all accommodation must be at a world class standard.
World Cup 2007 presents a unique opportunity since it will essentially bring the customer to St. Lucia for a pre-established period of time. The main purpose of the visit will be to watch cricket. However, cricket will take place for a few hours per day and the challenge will be to find activity, food and shelter for the people who will be in the island for the after cricket period.
Let me sound a word of caution - we are aware of he stringent copyright and ambush marketing regulations. However, we must find ways and means of making the event work to our economic benefit in spite of these laws.
Cricket is the main event but we can find opportunities to make St. Lucia the "Events" capital for the teams and visitors. We all know the teams scheduled to play in St. Lucia and also the home base for the English teams. There are numerous opportunities in culture, music, drama, food, entertainment, art etc. for visitors from the visiting countries. We can, for example, organise an "English" night or nights in different parts of the island and tailor events for the visitors. Numerous opportunities exist for all types of business activity. In essence, I am suggesting that appropriate events or activities present excellent business opportunities.
I said earlier that World Cup Cricket is about people in search of cricket and activities. We have dealt with accommodation and events. Let us deal with what is obvious - food. Providing adequate food and water for the thousands of visitors while at the same time ensuring that our normal population is satisfied can present a sea of opportunity. The logistics involved in the timely distribution and the provision of adequate supplies and the assurance that the consumer is satisfied with the quality and choices available are some of the areas of opportunity. I will not attempt to go into any great detail, but a simple example will illustrate what is possible. During St. Lucia Jazz 2005, I was having dinner at a restaurant in Rodney Bay. I witnessed in the time I spent there more than thirty five (35) people were turned away. The restaurant could not cope with the demand. Think about the scenario for World Cup. There will be the need for mobile canteens, disposable utensils, facilities for garbage collection, disposable tents, chairs, tables, cutlery, to mention a few. You will note that I have not dealt with the actual food and water. We can say with a degree of certainty that goods and services surrounding food distribution and preparation can present viable business opportunities.
We live in a technologically driven age. The need for information and the ability to receive and disseminate information is almost a basic human need. Visitors to St. Lucia during, before and even after will need access to the internet, telephones and other services. Business can invest in internet cafes of various types, possibly mobile ones, web hosting and maintenance, community access facilities through cable modems, E-commerce, portals, search engines and systems than can connect service providers to potential customers. All these opportunities can provide viable business options.
Visitors and spectators to such an historic event will always seek to preserve memories in various forms. Without compromising copyright and patent issues, a variety of souvenirs depicting St. Lucia can be manufactured in many forms. Apart from the regular T-shirt there is room for niche marketing in specialised garments. We can give new meaning to our national dress or even explore the making of garments from local raw materials as is practiced in other parts of the world.
There will also e a demand for local condiments, sauces and jams and sweets. Health style type products like massage oils, soaps and creams can be offered as memoirs.
A number of souvenir items can be made from local materials. New meaning can be given to "post consumer waste utilisation". Why can't we produce a paper bag from old newspapers depicting St. Lucia? It may be the ideal opportunity for some meaningful investment in the handicraft industry.
Then there is the area of training necessary for the service providers who must be of world class standard. What immediately comes to mind is food preparation and handling, para-medical and emergency training, first aid, babysitting, wellness services e.g. massaging and others like hairdressing etc. Then there is the task of communicating to businesses how they can work together and network so as to maximise benefits. The need for security training and personal protection for our VIP guests are all important if we want to make our visitors secure.
Transportation to the island and inland transportation can be challenging but also offers opportunity. How can we mobilize our transport providers to continue their daily routines but at the same time transport our visitors to destinations that they request.
The need for training for people working at the various ports of entry will be critical to the success of the event.
The legacy effect is arguably one of the most important benefits that can be derived from World Cup 2007. Why can't we decide as a country to plant flowers all over the island so that our visitors can be exposed to the glory of a clean and beautiful country expressing the splendour of its fauna and floral beauty?
The need for printing, labelling and documentation of events both in print, audio visual, picture and other forms of capture will be in great demand both in the actual and legacy period of World Cup 2007.
I hinted earlier that Government had created the environment for the accommodation sector and by extension the construction sector. There will be need for building materials of all types. Most importantly will be the need for skilled labour of a quality than can provide for the luxury apartments and hotels that are being built. The need for training and acquiring skills in plumbing, electronics, air-conditioning, tile laying, painting, landscaping and other related services are evident.
World Cup 2007 also presents the opportunity for networking, not only for business in St. Lucia but for the entire region. It may be the time to establish strategic linkages with firms that have the capacity to use the economies of scale that present themselves with the advent of such a large market.
Philosophically, World Cup 2007 can be the dawn of a new era for business opportunities. Praveen Sardana in his booklet "Making friends with trends - emerging business opportunities at the dawn of the 21st century notes " ideas and trends have no passports and they certainly require no visas to cross national boundaries. Rather than fighting these, making friends with trends is an answer to developing successful enterprises of the future. He further notes that "smart people today know that they can wield more influence and make more money with a bright idea and a new business than they could by running the largest corporations in his world". Let me suggest to you that preparation for events before, during and after World Cup can be the trend for business n the future.
I note that in your concept proposal you
have craved for independence and autonomy. Mindful of this request, I end by
wishing you well and imploring you to ensure that no stone is left unturned in
exposing and informing people of the business opportunities possible
through World Cup now and in the future.
I thank you.
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