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Vincy Heat and Tourism – a golden opportunity

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Next Friday our nation’s footballers embark on the next stage of their ambitious campaign to try and win a qualifying spot in the 2018 World Cup finals to be played in Russia. The journey will take them to midwest USA to play that country’s national team in the city of Missouri.

Trying to fulfil such an ambition is not easy for tiny countries like ours. It is costly and taxing on part-time players not accustomed to the rigours and demands of professional football, especially at the international level.{{more}} It takes a truly national effort to provide the requisite resources and support to sustain such a campaign.

Governments are called upon and expected to provide financial resources to underwrite the venture; and the further the team goes, the larger the share of taxpayers revenue that gets allotted to it. The Prime Minister has already indicated financial support in his Independence address, and it is hoped that the private sector will also do its part in supporting the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation.

Given the resources to be expended in this effort, it is important that our country tries to maximize the benefits that it can derive from the venture. We speak here not only in footballing terms but moreso of economic benefits. Small countries must out of necessity, seek every opportunity afforded them to try and derive benefits from every such occasion.

The Missouri game and the entire World Cup campaign can be a huge boost to our tourism prospects if we are able to utilize the openings. For one, it provides global exposure for our country, a chance to let the world know what we have to offer. The Missouri game is going to be beamed live by television (ESPN2 – Flow Channel 276) to millions of viewers the world over.

This is a golden opportunity to showcase SVG. One can only hope that the SVG Tourism Authority is “on the ball” and fully prepared and equipped to capitalize on the possibilities offered. Already, patriotic Vincentians in the USA have been mobilizing support for Vincy Heat, including fundraising efforts. This is commendable, and the tourism authorities can build on this to try and sell our attractions.

The benefits to be derived multiply the further the team goes into the competition. But so will the financial demands, as well. What better way to recoup our investments, give our footballers a comfort level and lay the basis for long-term tourism development than to seize the time, now!

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