NCDF admits slow costume sales: Mas fever missing

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National Carnival Development Association president Mahindra Satram Maharaj yesterday admitted that its been slow going with Carnival ‘mas band registrations, plus there’s been reports of people selling costumes on social media.
“We’ll know later this week, how good or bad the situation really is, but we’re seeing something we’re not accustomed to—the ‘fever just isn’t there,” Maharaj added yesterday.
“It may be picking up, but the comfort zone will be by weekend on whether it’s worked out well. But this isn’t the normal scenario.”
NCDF represents the majority of big bands as well as some small and medium-sized ones.
Maharaj spoke as collection week began for masqueraders, who’ll be picking up costumes from various bands this week for next Monday and Tuesday’s “national street fete.”
While the T&T Hotel, Restaurants and Tourism Association recently reported positive trending —almost 200 per cent projected for this week into the next and full occupancies in hotels in and around the capital— Maharaj said it’s another story so far for some bands.
“The economic situation locally, as well as crime, seem to be the major bugbears, with US’ immigration crackdowns, a secondary issue,” he said.
“We’ve received reports of people—from abroad—for instance putting up their Carnival costumes for sale on social media and offering by phone messaging also, as they aren’t coming to T&T or playing mas. They’ve advertised costumes with an asking price.
“Several bands aren’t yet sold out. But that’s a relative term, as you can reduce band numbers and get the lesser number sold out. Many bands also need support, since sponsors are at a premium now—corporate T&T is hesitant to put out as usual and it’s affecting bands leaders who are still nevertheless, committed to Carnival.”
Maharaj added, “Some are making sacrifices to ensure Carnival gets the best showing, so that a masquerader can get to play in a band and the band leaders themselves don’t run into financial problems by overextending.”
Also contacted yesterday, T&THRTA CEO Brian Frontin reiterated statements he gave last week’s Business Guardian, including that the 2017 Carnival looks good for hotels.
“We’ve had no major cancellations and didn’t see any cancellations due to the US travel ban,” he added.
But T&T Tour Operators Association head Lauren Pouchet said so far, incoming statistics to her organisation shows less activity this year than the last couple years.
“Information is still incoming but it doesn’t look very good to date. Most of the people who come are Trinis living broad and new arrivals are people who’ve never come here,” Pouchet said.
“Feedback to date seems to be the crime situation may be among deterrents. The global economic situation may be a factor also as well as US (immigration) issues.”

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