Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell and National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters have both defended the need for taxpayers to fund Carnival, agreeing that festivals help to fuel the economy.
Mitchell and Peters both spoke with Guardian Media during separate telephone interviews on the heels of Wednesday’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) into the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) administration.
The JSC revealed a $7 million loss for the Tobago Jazz Experience and their October Carnival combined.
However, events such as these have always cost the State more than it could recover and agencies responsible for tracking the spending habits of locals and tourists do not have up-to-date statistics to prove their value.
Despite this, Mitchell, who said he could not speak on Tobago’s affairs, maintained that festivals were important for the overall benefit of various cross-sections of society.
“It’s not as simple as you put out a certain amount of money to hold several events and you measure the event by way of your ticket receipts or by way of your bar receipts, etcetera. Because the people coming to your festival, they would have spent money for the plane tickets, they would have spent money for taxis, they may have rented vehicles, they would have purchased their clothing, they would go to make-up artists, they would do their nails. So, it’s not measured in that very, very simplistic way,” Mitchell said.
Peters went a bit further, noting that the NCC does not receive a profit from its Carnival expenses, pointing instead to the exchequer.
He said, “I don’t know in the Tobago’s House of Assembly, you know, I don’t know what they do, but the money goes to the exchequer. Governments make money from Carnival based on the amount of people that come and how much money they spend, how much taxis they take, how much hotels they stay in, how much food they buy, how much exchange we had.”
While the THA no longer intends to fund the Tobago Jazz Experience, it is still preparing for Carnival in October even as the study on last year’s event has not been peer reviewed for publication.