By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Government was yesterday urged to give Bahamians “a ‘reasonable expectation” of what this year’s Junkanoo Carnival will generate in terms of investment returns.
K P Turnquest, the Opposition’s deputy leader, reiterated his previous call for the Christie administration to reveal this year’s budget, and what the projected economic impact and tourist spend will be.
“Clearly, they are trying to do better this time around but, at the end of the day, if we’re going to make another investment on Carnival, we have to have some reasonable expectation of what the return is going to be,” Mr Turnquest said, “what that will translate into in dollars spent in the local economy, as well as a return on investment that the Bahamian people will make.
“IIn other words, not only do we want to see the spend in the economy, but we want to see the return in tax income to the Government. Until we can see that kind of plan, which will encompass the marketing plan, the organisational plan, the financial control plan; until we have seen all of that, we have to question if this thing is going to be another party in the backyard.
“That means it was successful in providing a good party experience for Bahamians, but that’s not the purpose as we understand it. The purpose is to put heads in beds and generate an economic return for the Bahamian people. To the extent that we don’t achieve that again, we’re talking about a failure.”
Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival organisers said earlier this week that a more “focused” approach has been taken to marketing this year’s event. It will take place on May 5-7 in New Providence, with a kick-off event from April 15-16 in Grand Bahama.
Last year’s festival attracted about 115,000 spectators or participants, employed 7,208 people and benefited 880 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to a report by the Bahamas National Festival Commission.
Mr Turnquest said the Ministry of Tourism launched its Junkanoo Carnival marketing campaign in Washington DC last week, but with the event scheduled for early May, much more needs to be done.
He added that Bahamian musician and producer, Fred Ferguson’s, recent pronouncement that he was withdrawing his support from the event points to a lack of buy-in to what the festival seeks to accomplish.