Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore has expressed concern with the marketing strategy for the inaugural Tobago Carnival. With two months to go before the October 28-30 festival begins, Ramsey-Moore said time is running out for the Tobago House of Assembly and the Tobago carnival committee to get it right.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ramsey-Moore criticised a decision to send a ten-member Tobago delegation to Grenada to promote the carnival, considering no schedule of events has been unveiled nor a budget. She said the promotion of the carnival locally is also woefully lacking.
Assistant Secretary of Tourism Meghan Morrison left Tobago last week with soca artistes and tourism officials to garner support for the carnival as the Spice Island prepares its own celebrations.
On Friday, Morrison met Grenada’s Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Youth, Sports, and Culture, Norman Gilbert, and discussions were held on further partnerships, knowledge sharing and transfers for the development of both islands’ cultural products.
In a Facebook post, Ramsey-Moore said, “When you think you know and you really don’t know! That is the vibes I’m getting with Tobago backival, Karnival or whatever they having in October. Big roll out in Grenada and nothing ah yard. T&T have more people than G(renada). Dance ah yard before you dance abroad.”
Asked about her post on Sunday, Ramsey-Moore said, “I am not against the marketing and promotion all over the world of any event in Tobago, but I think as stakeholders we are (supposed) to be brought up to date with what is happening. Where is the calendar of events?”
She said the THA is not utilising resources at its disposal and there is little buy in from local stakeholders.
“What is wrong with having your very own NCC (National Carnival Commission) assisting with marketing in Trinidad…
“I am confused. You are out there marketing Tobago carnival and not marketing in TT. You have not marketed in your country. TT has more people than Grenada. Trinidad is the mecca of Carnival. So if you want to sell a Carnival, where is the first place you’d go?”
She believes time is running out.
“This is not hansy pansy. This is serious business. I want to ensure that the Tobago Carnival is one of the best in the world. We must begin to sell that we (TT) start and end the Carnival.”
NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters agreed with Ramsey-Moore that the carnival is not being promoted enough locally.
“That’s the truth,” he said.
Peters said the NCC held cordial preliminary discussions with the THA when the carnival was announced but has not been consulted since. He said the NCC was unaware of the aim of the trip to Grenada.
“After they put a committee together they said they don’t want Tobago carnival to look like Trinidad carnival. What they mean is that they don’t want Tobago carnival to look like Trinidad and Tobago carnival, because it’s one country.
“Every country wants a Trinidad and Tobago-style carnival because it’s so successful, but they don’t want it – I guess they want it to look like Grenada Carnival.”
PNM Tobago Council leader Ancil Dennis, who shared Ramsey-Moore’s Facebook post, said he was “disappointed with the apparent lack of organisation and planning” so far.
“I find it difficult to understand the reason for the THA being in this position, because consultation and talks about Tobago having its own carnival started since early 2021, under the previous PNM administration while I was Chief Secretary.
“I find it difficult why two months before this event there is no relevant information to allow stakeholders and the intended audience to plan and make arrangements to support this carnival. It is my hope they get it right for Tobago to have a successful Carnival. It is beyond politics. It is in the best interest of Tobago.”
Ramsey-Moore said the latest information she had was that there was THA approval for pan events. She said Pan Trinbago’s Tobago region chairman is expected to meet the Division of Tourism on Monday to discuss the next step.
“I am awaiting the results of that meeting,” Ramsey-Moore said.
She added that the decision not to host steelband, calypso, soca and other competitions is expected to remain.
“The THA has taken a decision not to have competition and we will abide by that, but we know what competition drives within the community with pride and other sort of thing.”
Efforts to contact Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Antiquities Tashia Burris were unsuccessful as she did not respond to a call and WhatsApp message. Morrison, in a WhatsApp response, declined comment when asked to address Ramsey-Moore’s statement.