By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe said officials are still working to determine the budget for this year’s Junkanoo Carnival.
He insisted, however, that the price will be “several million dollars” less than last year’s festival, which cost about $11.3m.
Last year’s event was criticised because of government’s failure to break even or make a profit despite hailing the event as an economic stimulus and tourist attraction.
“We’re getting briefs on carnival,” Mr Wilchcombe said yesterday. “We’ve seen preliminary budgets that they’re proposing. A number of things are still being done. Marketing plans are being completed. We expect a rollout soon. It will definitely be less expensive. Several million dollars less certainly.”
Although Mr Wilchcombe did not reveal any specifics, a source in the Christie administration told The Tribune that the government was considering a budget of $3m for the event.
It also remains unclear which entertainer will headline the festival’s main concert.
Last year, the government received heavy criticism for failing to secure a headliner well in advance of the festival before ultimately deciding on Trinidadian soca singer Machel Montano.
This, Mr Wilchcombe has said, possibly contributed to the event’s failure to attract a notable number of tourists.
The government had budged $9m for its inaugural Junkanoo Carnival, but because of cost overruns, the festival’s cost ballooned to $11.3m. The government reaped $8.3m in combined direct and tax revenues, with the later providing $6.7m of that sum.
Critics, like FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest, have said that the Bahamas National Festival Commission, which organises the festival, hasn’t learned from last year’s mistakes and won’t structure the event in a way that reaps a return on its investment.
The BNFC has said that local artist Julien “Believe” Thompson will produce this year’s Music Master’s song competition, a contest in which Bahamian musicians submit their songs in the hope of being crowned champion of the festival.
Carnival is scheduled for May 5-7 in New Providence, with a kick-off event from April 15-16 in Grand Bahama.