~ Says financial realities unavoidable ~
PHILIPSBURG:--- The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) is moving ahead with its plans towards hosting a safe Carnival 2021 and stressed that St. Maarten’s festival situation cannot be compared with others.
“People are beaming with anticipation to have our traditional Carnival, and we are ready with our plans to give them their Carnival,” SCDF said. With the news of two acceptable COVID-19 vaccines now on the market, the foundation also looks forward to the world being in a better place come April 2021.
The foundation has its extensive plans ready and has already met with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau about Carnival 2021 and some of its safety plans. The foundation also disclosed that there will be some changes to the structure of certain events just in case additional safety measures are required at that time. “We have to prepare. We cannot sit by and not get ready for the festival,” the foundation said.
The announcement comes after growing concern whether the Carnival would be would be cancelled or postponed altogether again, leaving the SCDF, sponsors, tourism and hospitality businesses, troupe leaders, promoters, booth holders and other Carnival stakeholders in financial limbo once again. The SCDF face the challenges of balancing stakeholder and public safety, as well as keeping costs down to offset the heavy losses incurred by postponing the festival for a year.
All troupes, booth holders and concert promoters have indicated that they are good to go for Carnival. The foundation explained that the reality surrounding Carnival on St. Maarten is very different than similar festivals elsewhere. St. Maarten’s Carnival was the first Carnival in the region to be called off due to COVID-19. Unlike other festivals which were held before the peak of the pandemic or was cancelled months later, Carnival on St. Maarten was called off a mere two weeks before the first Carnival 2020 event was scheduled to be held.
“What this means is that by that time, thousands of dollars was already spent or committed for Carnival 2020. Contractually there are stakeholders sitting on significant amount of money that was paid by revelers, suppliers, artists ect and in a majority of these cases, those funds were re-invested or already sent abroad. Same goes for concert promoters who have sent down-payments to artists and will not be able to recoup. There are also hundreds of people, residents and visitors, who have purchased show tickets, season passes ect, funds that have already been committed for their specific purposes,” the foundation explained.
“Other festivals are not burdened by this. While stakeholders and creditors have all been patient and understanding for one year, we do not foresee a situation where they will be as understanding for yet another year especially in hard economic times. A child reveler, who has already paid for a costume, will not be the same size two years later, neither might an adult. Not having a Carnival will result in catastrophic financial consequences for Carnival stakeholders and the foundation,” the SCDF explained.
The foundation said it is not oblivious to the pandemic, which is why it believes it has found a balance to still have a well-organised and safe festival against a COVID-19 backdrop. “With other festivals in the region already cancelled, this also presents St. Maarten with a unique economic opportunity to be the center of the festival calendar. The island also needs any economic activity it could muster and as everyone knows, Carnival is a key economic driver annually for businesses of all sizes and by extension government coffers,” the foundation concluded.