Expensive hotels a threat to 2013 Games success
Jorgen Pettersson believes that affordable travel, accommodation, and a divided society are the biggest threats to Bermuda's hopes of hosting a successful NatWest Island Games in 2013.
The chairman of the International Island Games Association is in Bermuda over the next couple of days for a flying visit along with the rest of his executive committee as they gear up for this summer's Games in the Isle of Wight.
During their brief stay the committee will meet with organisers of the Bermuda Games, tour sporting facilities, and try and ascertain what challenges lie ahead in the next two years.
“What we want to see from our visit here is to see that there is commitment from the Government, that's very important, because an organising committee in itself is not enough to have when it comes to a Games on the scale of this,” Pettersson said.
“We might be small Islands, and we might not have the world class results, but the competition is world class. We are dealing with it to the best of our ability. And that means that the society needs to stand behind the organisers.
“You need 1000 volunteers to take care of things, food stations, what have you, transport, so it has to include the whole of the society, it's not enough to have a few enthusiasts, and think this is all right.
“The tourism department of Government needs to be involved somehow, and they should get involved, because it's an opportunity to tell the world what they have here.
“I think it's a great opportunity for Bermuda to show the world that you can work together. I know that Bermuda, to some extent, is a little bit divided.”
While this summer's Games in the Isle of Wight will see 3000-plus athletes, compete in a variety of sports, Pettersson said that was a real chance that little more than 2000 would come in two years time.
Pettersson pointed to the affordable holiday accommodation in the Isle of Wight as an example of why that might be the case as opposed to what he termed Bermuda's more ‘upmarket tourism'. The change in the world economy hasn't helped matters either.
“It's too early to say (exactly what the economic impact might be),” said Pettersson, “but many of our members have expressed concerns about the travel and the accommodation, and of course the day-to-day living costs as well.
“On the other hand, it's the membership that have voted Bermuda to become the hosts of the Games, and they were aware of what they chose. So in a sense it's a little bit too late now to come up and say that it costs too much.
“What we are expecting is the other member Islands to take their responsibility, and pay back to Bermuda, who has had this cost every time, and this is a one off. We're hoping that it won't affect the number of competitors.
“These Games now this summer, will be 3000-plus competitors, mainly because it's in the Isle of Wight and it's pretty easy to get there. It doesn't cost much and their accommodation is widespread and it's not very expensive either. They have these holiday villages and their tourism is a little bit downmarket tourism compared with here, where it's more upmarket.”
Pettersson said the onus would be on the organisers to provide visiting Islands with alternatives for accommodation and travel, especially as he said ‘you can't put them (athletes) all in the Hamilton Princess'.
It will be Bermuda's ability to provide that, which will go a long way to making the 2013 event a success, because Pettersson has few worries on the sporting side of things.
“We have no doubt whatsoever when it comes to the ability of the Bermudian sport to deliver a good Games,” he said, “it's the other things, the logistics and the accommodation that will be the big challenge.
‘What is expected from Bermuda after this weekend is to sooner or later, sooner rather than later, to bring up a website for example, where people see what to expect.
“To have different alternatives for actually travelling, how do you move 2000+ people from Europe to here. To have different alternatives when it comes to accommodation, you can't put all of them in the Hamilton Princess, you need to have different alternatives.
“Nobody wants to have a very small Games. Bermuda doesn't want to have a very small Games, because it is really an opportunity to tell the world about Bermuda. Whether that is necessary or not, I'm not sure, because Bermuda is pretty famous anyway, but you never get enough of fame.”