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Masqueraders hit the stage with full force at Miami Carnival 2018.

SOYINI GREY

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Carnival stakeholders from around the globe will converge on Miami Carnival this weekend to work hard and play harder.

But they are also in Miami to take notes.

As the first major Carnival of the post-COVID era, stakeholders want to be reassured that it is possible to have a safe festival.

Director of marketing and sponsorship for Miami Carnival, John Beckford, explained yesterday that the multiple events associated with the festival brings in a tremendous amount of money for the Miami-Dade country and ultimately the entire state.

“They recognise the value and the economic impact,” Beckford told Guardian Media.

“There is an economic impact to the tune of US$50 to US$60 million because you know folks are staying in hotels, they are paying that bed tax, they are renting cars, they are paying that tax. So that’s going back to the coffers of local government,” he said.

With over 100 fetes and various events, that also means a range of small businesses are being employed to support them.

US President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan was designed to help small businesses bounce back in the post-pandemic economy.

The businesses that make the Caribbean Carnival are in the micro, small to medium category, and this is giving them an opportunity to make some money.

The reach of Miami Carnival extends all the way to Trinidad and Tobago, the mecca.

Solange Govia is designing for Miami Carnival for the first time this year for the band Mascots. She said Miami Carnival is giving people like her hope, but more importantly, it is giving her work.

Govia said, “I have a small team of producers, of people who create and wire bend and feather work, and I was able to employ people locally, also do some local sewing locally,” she said.

“It was great giving some people some work, including myself!”

In August at the sod-turning ceremony for the new Desperadoes Pan Theatre in Port-of-Spain, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said his Government was committed to using culture to contribute to economic diversification.

But Govia drew from soca artiste Bunji Garlin’s soca “Heart of the People” to comment on the national attitude. Earlier in the pandemic, she participated on a panel that explored the impact of not having a Carnival. Govia said people were chastising them for “talking about wine and jam when there are people who are sick.” She said the public sees “the mas bands, but they are not seeing the tourism and hospitality industry on a whole. They are not seeing the flights, the restaurants, the tour operators, the hotels. The whole entire country benefits.”

The Government has made no decision on when the next T&T Carnival will be held.

However, National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, will be the Grand Marshall of this weekend’s Miami Carnival parade. He is there with a small team and will most certainly be watching the management of the events carefully.

Members of the Promoters’ Association are also there. They will be working with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts at establishing protocols for hosting safe events.

Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell said while no announcement has yet been made, the Prime Minister will do so at the appropriate time, based on expert advice, vaccination levels and the response to the TT Safe Zone project.