Fri | Jun 21, 2024

Carnival could be much bigger!

Published:Thursday | April 11, 2024 | 12:06 AM


Carnival reportedly pumps close to $5 billion into the Jamaican economy each year. People travel from afar to Jamaica for carnival and visitors spend big bucks! It is a big investment, and the event is now one of the major events on the calendar. Jamaica carnival is unique, with its blend of cultures and music genres, primarily soca, with a touch of dancehall and reggae. There is a kaleidoscope of colours, creative energy and fun activities. Popular spots such as Hellshire and Devon House, downtown Kingston, Port Royal, Lime Cay, etc, experienced good business during the weekend. This is what sets our carnival apart from others in the region – the variety of options and things to do and see while still partaking in the main event. I believe government and stakeholders should come together to manage the event centrally. With bands parading through different sections of the city, there should always be a point where they converge into a single parade, for all to see the full variety of costumes and revelry.

There is also the issue of security and cleanup after. Who is responsible? I believe the city should be responsible, considering that hotels are full, and the city benefits in a major way economically. Cleanup should follow the bands immediately and they should not wait for garbage to pile up and stink overnight, which makes it even more difficult. There are multiple private sponsors covering other costs, cleaning is not their expertise. As the event involves the masses, across many areas in the city, the municipality should expect and plan for cleanup. I also think they should bring back the Mas Camps leading up to the finale weekend. It is important for revellers to experience and familiarise themselves with the new soca music for the season, before the parade. It is also a good way to promote the finale.

It was reported in the media that a group of tourists from France were unable to find information online about Jamaica Carnival, including where to buy tickets, get costumes and how to join in the fun, so they joined the parade from the sidelines and did their own thing. Many persons complained of the long wait to pick up costumes. This process should be seamless considering the price of a costume is close to US$1000. Others complained of the ineffective road marshalling, which allowed random spectators to join costumed bands on streets. People pay a lot for costumes and with that comes some level of exclusivity during the road march. There could be a section at the end for spectators to join in. Others complained that the same music was being played over and over, during the parade. There is no excuse for this. I saw the beautiful ‘Visit Jamaica’ truck during the parade, imagine if the event had been better organized! It could pull even more visitors to the island to experience Jamaica Carnival.

We must think outside the box, and think BIG to maximise the full effect and diversity of the Jamaican experience for visitors and locals alike.