By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival participants yesterday said there was “no denying” that the postponement debacle had impacted this year’s event, estimating that “no less than 1,000” revellers did not attend as a result.
Dario Tirelli, the Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association’s (BCBOA) president, estimated there were 3,000-plus persons on the weekend’s Road Fever Parade, a signature event of the festival.
“Last year we had double that number, easy,” Mr Tirelli said. “I could estimate that no less than 1,000 persons didn’t come because of the change of the date and, in addition to the revellers, there would have been others persons who came with them who may not have necessarily been a part of the parade.”
The Nassau event, which had been set for May 4-6, was suddenly postponed to May 18-20 due to conflicts with the general election timetable. Following two days of widespread backlash, both locally and internationally, over the last-minute delay, and the cancellation of the Grand Bahama event, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe announced that the original dates were reinstated, along with the Grand Bahama component.
“There as some negative fallout, we can’t deny that. We had less revellers than last year,” Mr Tirelli said. “The money is made in selling costumes produced locally at an inexpensive rate to sell at a premium.
“As much as they want to pretend that it did not, the postponement controversy had a significant effect. Some persons changed their ticket to go to Jamaica’s Carnival right away as soon as they made that announcement. People had taken vacation, which they allocated a year ahead of time, and decided they would simply accept the penalty to change their ticket but not their vacation.”
Mr Tirelli said yesterday that not all 21 bands made a profit this time around. “Everyone involved has to understand that the Road Parade is carnival; that’s what brings the heads in beds,” he added.
“People look at the Bahamas for the Road Parade. That is where the money is generated from; people purchasing costumes, people coming here and paying for their hotel stay, meals and those sorts of things.
“I think that some bands made profits and some didn’t. It’s a business. Either you make the sacrifice to stay relevant or you don’t. With my band I had anticipated 97 people; we might have done 21 at the most.”
Mr Tirelli said more must be done to market the Road March. “As the band owners we are falling down on that also,” he added. “We have to market the Road March. Attending the other carnival events is how you get the enthusiast.
“There are people who do the Carnival circuit. We are out there at the Trinidad carnival promoting the Bahamas carnival to get people to come here. There can not be this standoff approach with the band owners.”
Still, Mr Tirelli described this year’s event as “an excellent show” “It was good. It was successful in that it happened on the date they posted last year. We saw less attendance this year than at the previous ones, that’s what I saw. They put on a world class show, they put on an excellent show. I think that the parade was good, but we still had problems with security in the Nassau Street and Poinciana corridors.”