CARNIVAL BY THE NUMBERS
Tickets sales and other revenue: $578,342
Total sponsorship: $1.2 million (cash and kind)
Total expenses: $9.8 million
Government subsidy: $8.1 million
85% of expenditure consumed locally
Grand Bahama Carnival kickoff expense: $1.3 million
Total SMEs and individuals engaged: 974
65% increase in air arrivals to Grand Bahama for April Junkanoo Carnival weekend
11% increase in air arrivals for Nassau for May Junkanoo Carnival week
Grand Bahama attendees: 21,000
Nassau atttendees: 39,700
Direct employment: 1,236
Indirect employment: 1,661
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOUR months after Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, officials from the Bahamas National Festival Commission have finally released key financial details surrounding the event, revealing the total cost was $9.8m with a government subsidy of $8.1m.
In April, BNFC Chairman Paul Major said the government would spend about $7m to host the festival.
The event attracted $1.2m in sponsorship while ticket sales and ‘other revenue’ accounted for $578,342.
Last year, the government spent $11.3m on the inaugural festival, going over its initial budget of $9m, with the total cost of the first carnival $12.9m, with the rest covered by sponsors.
The BNFC will hold a press conference today to discuss the economic impact of Junkanoo Carnival. However, in a statement in newspapers today, BNFC highlights reductions in total expenses and the government’s subsidy, while hailing increases in air arrivals, attendees, employment and involvement by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) throughout the country.
Referring to its impact on the tourism economy as a “substantive improvement,” officials estimated a 56 per cent increase in tourism related economic activity such as hotel room revenue, stopover and cruise passenger expenditures.
Further, the BNFC said despite a down month for international arrivals in Grand Bahama, arrivals for the festival’s kickoff weekend on the island were up by roughly 65 per cent.
Tourist arrivals in Nassau for the event were also said to be up by 11.5 per cent, an increase in the monthly year-over-year average for May.
Additionally, officials claimed tourist related expenditures increased in 2016 due to a 79 per cent increase in tourist attendance, the direct employment of more than 1,200 workers, and the indirect employment of another 1,600 Bahamians.
Officials also projected a $70 million impact on the national gross domestic product (GDP) from carnival - $10 million less than 2015 estimates.
According to the BNFC, the festival in its second year, continued to succeed against its mandate of stimulating economic opportunities for SMEs in the creative sector and positively impacting the national GDP.
Officials estimated that some 278 small and medium businesses and 696 individuals benefited directly from the expenditures related to the annual festival, 85 per cent of which was spent locally with suppliers across a myriad of sectors.
The committee indicated that it was able to “realise significant cost savings” in year two of the festival by bringing a more strategic focus to the event and implementing several key recommendations made after the inaugural festival.
These moves are said to have reduced government subsidies by an estimated $5 million - about 38 per cent less than 2015.
BNFC said professional musicians, caterers, dancers, media houses, production companies, printing companies, security services, sanitation services and other service providers all benefited from the activity spurred by the annual festival.
Officials said that 675 Bahamian solo artists, bands, entertainers and Junkanooers were employed through the festival.
In Grand Bahama, 126 local musicians were engaged while 247 were in Nassau. A total of 99 international musicians were employed between Nassau and Grand Bahama.
The BNFC said the event was attended by 39,700 people in New Providence and 21,000 in Grand Bahama.
“Of the total budget spent on Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, the majority was invested in the music brand pillar for the event, which included the Music Masters Song Competition and the various nightly concerts,” the BNFC said.
“The culture brand pillar received the second largest investment, which included the Cultural Village, and related cultural demonstrations, exhibits and performances. The vibes brand pillar, which speaks to the Road Fever parade, accounted for the smallest investment of the three brand pillars.
It continued: “The Music Masters Song Competition was expanded in several positive ways, including the introduction of an artist development workshop with Sony Music Entertainment. Each contestant was also able to produce a music video this year during the artist development boot camp. The totally indigenous ‘Junkamania’ event more than doubled in the number of bands that participated, particularly among school bands, which is very encouraging because it preserves the culture for future generations.”
Moreover, the Road Fever event was also credited as a major stimulant for business along its route.
“The Road Fever event, which grew by leaps and bounds, was particularly a boon for casual vendors, who engaged in commerce along the route. One vendor sold ice from the back of a truck on the highway to passing groups in need of refills for their bars. Another vendor had a (moving) conch salad truck that travelled along the route with a major group to provide sustenance to revellers.
“Businesses such as Bamboo Shack and KFC along the route sold out of stock due to the high demand. Even gas stations saw a boost in confectionery and soft drink trade. The route change, which incorporated more of the inner city, gave residents easier access to spectating as the event literally went past their door steps.”
Ahead of the 2016 cycle of events, the Road Fever parade was privatised, reducing the commission’s financial obligation to the event to a minimal level - prize money.
The statement also noted the return of the festival’s title sponsor, BTC, for a second consecutive year with an investment of $650,000 in cash sponsorship and $350,000 in kind.
Other sponsors identified included Commonwealth Brewery, another founding sponsor, and Atlantis, Super Clubs Breezes, Bank of the Bahamas and Cash and Go, however sponsorship amounts by these companies were not given.
Apart from the financial specifics provided by the BNFC, the commission adopted and presented aspects of a study conducted by the College of the Bahamas.
Guided by Dr Nicolette Bethel and a team of students, the study identified that the average likelihood to recommend the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival to others grew positively in 2016 from 6.99 to 7.91, on a scale of one to ten.
The study also indicated that 56 per cent of those attending in Nassau rated the event “very good” or “excellent.”
Additionally, 57 per cent of those attending thought the event provided a great deal of value or a lot of value for its cost, with 87 per cent of respondents feeling safe within confines of the event.
Further, the study concluded that an overall average expenditure per person for the event was around $111.02.
According to those surveyed, the majority attending in Nassau, 77 per cent, spent over $50 at the event; 34 per cent spent between $50 and $99; 31 per cent spent between $100 and $249; and one per cent spent over $500.
The government budgeted $9 million for the inaugural Junkanoo Carnival, but due to cost overruns and other failures on the part of the commission, that spending ballooned to $11.3m. Last year, the government reaped $8.3m in combined direct and tax revenues, with the latter providing $6.7 million of that sum.
As a result, government officials and those attached to the festival made it a point to keep this year’s carnival on budget.