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Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell.

KEVON FELMINE

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While Carnival 2022 is a fete-less celebration because of COVID-19, party lovers might get a chance to ease their ‘tabanca’ as Government has reiterated its intention to host band-launch season and Festival of Fetes this coming August.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell said that many Carnival bands usually launch their presentations in August. Therefore, the Ministry wants to create a band-launch season: a series of events held over two weekends or two weeks.

Speaking on Slam 100.5 FM Grand Slam Morning Show, Mitchell said he wants to market these events internationally.

Mitchell described the band-launch season as a unique fashion show where a catwalk meets a fete.

He said the Ministry may invite international models to walk the catwalk to enjoy the local culture and added that there is also the opportunity to host the Festival of Fetes.

“We are extremely innovative in the way we party. It is one of our comparative advantages whether we want to recognize it or not. We fete like nobody else in the world. We have been innovative to create fetes. We fete on a barge in the water. We fete on the beach. We fete in the bush,” Mitchell said.

He explained it as a marriage between tourism, culture and arts that can attract visitors to engage in the local offerings and said it will allow T&T to earn foreign exchange and highlight the country internationally.

Carnival contributes heavily to the Gross Domestic Product and Mitchell said 10 per cent of annual visitors arrived in the two weeks before Carnival.

Therefore, he said the Ministry wants to use culture to ensure more attractive festivals during the year.

Mitchell said the Ministry was in discussions with the Emancipation Support Committee to build a festival that ties emancipation to the beginnings of Carnival.

Some stakeholders are unsatisfied with the upcoming Taste of Carnival in February. However, Mitchell maintains that the events and timing depended on the COVID-19 situation.

He said Carnival was not on in its truest sense, but the events carded are the least risky where COVID-19 was concerned.

The Ministry began consultation with stakeholders, including the National Carnival Commission (NCC), promoters, tourism agencies and even party boat operators to determine the safe reopening of the event and entertainment sectors in October.

“Between October 2021 and January 2022, the circumstances of the pandemic had changed dramatically. Here in Trinidad, as well as worldwide, the hospitalizations increased. Vaccinations remained stagnant, and then there was the discovery of the Omicron Variant.”

He said the Ministry engaged with the Ministry of Health and it did a forecast to ensure that whatever events came up, they could safely execute them.

Mitchell said private promoters, including Caesar’s Army and soca artiste Erphaan Alves, already booked event spaces. The NCC drafted an event schedule that includes Carnival tents, calypso competition and extempore.

Mitchell said he knows people want to go to parties, and so does he.

“I want to fete. I want to play J’Ouvert as I always do. But in the context of the daily deaths, the hospitalizations, the stagnation in the vaccination rate and now the Omicron variant, those things were deemed a little too risky. But we still want to engage in the reopening of the events sector.” He explained that all events will be guided by the Public Health Regulations.