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Caribbean rallies locals to close gap in ticket sales

About half the seats for matches in the nine host countries are still available, and officials are rallying local fans to push ticket sales.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 11:33 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

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 stadia, 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.

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.

First Published: Jan 30, 2007 11:33 IST