St. Maarten Minister floats idea to shift Carnival to June

POSTED: 08/11/11 12:00 PM

SCDF, Regatta get subsidy increase for 2012

St. Maarten – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication Franklin Meyers has announced that government is considering shifting Carnival from late April/early May to sometime in June. This is not concrete yet and has not yet been discussed with stakeholders, including the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF), which organizes carnival every year.
“We have had a lot of concerns about our slow period where in the months after May, until about September or October when the season starts again in November, and we’re looking strongly at how do we make things happen in our slow months? One of the things that can be considered is the possibility of moving Carnival from April to June, which will create some activity in our slower months. Of course, you can then also market the possibility of hotel’s giving incentives and airlines giving incentives and selling it as a package as opposed to not being able to get those incentives in the thick of the season,” Meyers said.
SCDF President Stuart Johnson did not take a position when asked about the idea. He believes that the SCDF board needs to have an internal discussion first and then meet with the minister.
“While the Board of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation embraces discussion on all ideas relating to Carnival the dates for Carnival 2012 have already been set, so this will become an ongoing discussion,” Johnson said.

Increased subsidy
Meyers floated the idea of changing the dates during the Council of Ministers press briefing where he also announced that government will be giving the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation and St. Maarten Yacht Club 500, 000 guilders each in subsidy in 2012. Most of the money is designated for regional and international marketing campaigns aimed at attracting visitors to the events.
The SCDF immediately issued a statement welcoming the announcement. The government’s plan will give the organization another 320, 000 guilders and is a delivery on a promise made ahead of the 2011 festivities that government will contribute more money in 2012.
“We are pleased to note that after years of lobbying for an increase, the Minister understands that Carnival can be of significant economic value to St. Maarten once significantly supported by government,” Johnson said.
“The board of the SCDF continues to think long term with Carnival. This long term vision includes elevating St. Maarten’s Carnival in the Northern Caribbean to the level and stature of Trinidad’s in the South. We have a unique product, St. Maarten is strategically located, we intend to take full advantage of all those aspects. Additional funding only helps to serve those causes,” Johnson added.
The SCDF now looks forward to meeting with Meyers to review the details of the increased funding and to find out his expectations. Carnival 2012 is scheduled to run from April 19, 2012 to May 2, 2012.

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