World Cup boon

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 03 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

HOWZAT: Cricket fans Ned Worledge, left, Varuni Kulasekera and Darragh Carey, all of Hobart, and Alex Ford, of Geeveston, are already gearing up for the World Cup matches to be played at Blundstone Arena in March 2015. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

HOBART'S three-match World Cup coup has more than Tasmania's cricket fans excited -- and the state's tourism industry believes it has the potential to draw thousands of new visitors to the island from interstate and overseas.

Ireland, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Australia, plus a qualifying nation, will do battle at Blundstone Arena in March 2015, and Destination Southern Tasmania boss Ben Targett says the international combination could be a boon for tourism operators.

"The Irish are mad about their sport in general and travel extensively to support their national teams, and the Sri Lankan people love their cricket," Mr Targett said.

"Melbourne has a significant Sri Lankan population and we hope to work with the community there to entice strong support of their team on March 11 in Hobart."

Mr Targett also said the quadrennial one-day tournament would provide a great opportunity to showcase Tasmania to the world, with more than one billion television viewers expected to tune in.

He said Blundstone Arena had already established itself as one of the most picturesque boutique venues in world cricket, and the current $30 million grandstand development would enhance this reputation.

"Destination Southern Tasmania will be working with the Cricket World Cup 2015 preferred tour operators, our existing travel partners, and our local industry and community to make sure our festival of cricket has a truly international feel," Mr Targett said.

Lifelong Sri Lankan cricket fan and Hobart resident Varuni Kulasekera said she was overjoyed when the World Cup fixtures were announced, and she predicted an influx of brightly dressed, noisy Lions come March 2015.

"I'm so excited Sri Lanka are coming to Tasmania. It's a big thing for us, and I think it will be a great game," she said.

"I just love cricket. It's in my blood.

"And I think the Sri Lankans living in Melbourne would be very interested in coming down for the game, and we should try to promote Tasmania and everything the state can offer to that community."

Cricket Tasmania chief executive David Johnston said he was thrilled Tasmania had scored three games during the World Cup, and promised to work closely with Tourism Tasmania to attract new visitors.

"To get three games with so many different nations is a real boon for Blundstone Arena," Mr Johnston said.

"We'll be working closely with Tourism Tasmania to try to make sure we attract people. Because we have our games within a week, we are hoping people will stay and sample some of the delights of Tasmania other than the cricket."

Blundstone Arena's new stadium is expected to be unveiled in November next year.

The matches at Blundstone Arena for the 2015 ICC World Cup --

March 7: Zimbabwe v Ireland

March 11: Sri Lanka v 3rd non-Test qualifier

March 14: Australia v 3rd non-Test qualifier

duncan.abey@news.com.au


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