By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas National Festival Commission is expected to meet with the media next week to present the revenue and economic impact figures for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, according to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe.
The report was initially supposed to be released within 21 days of the conclusion of the inaugural festival, which was staged over two days in Grand Bahama in April and from May 7-9 in New Providence.
Two weeks ago Youth, Sports and Culture Minister Dr Danny Johnson said the report was still being finalised. At the time, he said the report would “hopefully” be released within a week’s time.
When asked by The Tribune for an update on the report yesterday however, Mr Wilchcombe said: “The commission is to meet with the media next week.”
The government initially said it would cost $9m to stage the event. However, BNFC officials have given little insight on how much was spent and earned from the festival.
In February, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government expected Junkanoo Carnival to generate $30m for the Bahamian economy. Mr Christie said with “proper execution” this year alone the festival alone could yield $21m.
The day the event launched in Nassau, BNFC Chairman Paul Major predicted $50m to $60m in economic impact, with organisers forecasting an economic boost for the country resulting from the significant number of tourists travelling to the Bahamas for the event.
In June, however, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association said while hotels in the country welcomed the festival, many of them could not measure whether guests came to New Providence specifically to attend the three-day event or if they learned of Junkanoo Carnival during their stay and chose to attend during their trips.
Last month, FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said the lack of information on the event signifies that “something is clearly off.”
He added at the time: “If there was proper accounting done, proper management at the top and proper organisation throughout the event, this process would be going a lot smoother. The fact of the matter remains, they had issues. There was a lack of professionalism that existed to some extent and this is the end result. There were some indications that during the event there were some internal control issues.”
Also, last week two former employees of the commission were charged with allegedly stealing more than $30,000 from the organisation.
Benjamin Lightbourne, 25, and Kendyce Ferguson, 33, appeared before Magistrate Guilimina Archer facing two counts of stealing by reason of employment concerning purported thefts from the BNFC on March 16 and March 23 of this year.
They pleaded not guilty to the offences.