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TDC using $$ to brand T&T Carnival
This year the Tourism Development Company (TDC) is exploring all its possibilities to be involved in Carnival. Chairman Rajiv Shandilya said the TDC has chosen a different direction. Instead of being a sponsor to events, it plans to be directly involved. “We were never part of Carnival,” he said.
He said signage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, decorated airports and hosting close to 18 international journalists and travel writers during Carnival were some of the initiatives of the TDC to promote and enhance destination T&T for the season. This, however, is being done with “limited resources,” according to Shandilya.
Though Carnival is just weeks away, he said discussions were still being held with the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, Tribe band leader Dean Ackin, National Carnival Bandleaders’ Association (NCBA), National Carnival Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders to finalise the plans. Shandilya said, “Carnival period represents the highest number of visitors coming in to the country within a short space of time.
“The emphasis of Carnival in terms of marketing is that TDC formerly spent a lot of money on sponsorship. We have chosen to go in a different direction because out of the sponsorship money given out, we were never part of the Carnival. TDC this year is exploring all the possibilities of being involved.” Shandilya spoke with the Sunday Guardian in an interview on Friday at the Chancellor Hotel, St Ann’s.
The TDC is a state enterprise which was formed in 2005, with a mandate to develop and market T&T’s tourism product and improve the local tourism sector. The savannah is the main theatre of the costumery and thousands of people, masqueraders, visitors and spectators are anticipated to be there at some point.
And to maximise on this, the TDC plans to put up signage with its logo which depicts fun and sun throughout the area. Shandilya said, “I have already had meetings with the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas, a follow-up meeting with the chairman of the NCC and its CEO in discussing the initiatives that the TDC will partner with the NCC on how we address the use of the savannah.
“The savannah is the main theatre of the costumery and as a result of that we are negotiating with NCC that we would have significant signage and branding of Trinidad and Tobago together with the fun and the sun logo which is our international logo. “So that any form of video capture or still picture capture will be clearly visible in the background and will be Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said it shouldn’t only be about capturing the costumes and the colour. The TDC plans to have unique positioning at the savannah branding the country. Also, the 18 journalists/travel writers are expected the week before Carnival. “We would be ensuring that the maximum exposure with all the elements of Carnival are captured, Shandilya said.
The focus on their writing, he said, will be T&T’s uniqueness and to clear any misconceptions about Carnival being a duplication of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. It’s all about the visitor and the experience from touchdown. Shandilya said TDC approached Ackin to possibly donate costumes to put on display at the Piarco and ANR Robinson International Airports. Talks were also held with NCBA chairman David Lopez to assist with decorating.
The atrium and immigration area will be decorated to depict Carnival. “The entire experience will be from touchdown,” he said. Discussions with the Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) “to dress up the airports” were held, he added, saying TDC had traditionally joined with it to develop decor. Shandilya said, “This year we are concerned about the experience.
“What we have done is to follow a theme and speak about plans to develop a story-line to educate the visitor about the characters such as la diablesse and jab jab. “We want to tell a story and also have pictures.” However, he assured that the decor will not be for Carnival alone but also for other major festivals. “Carnival is in flavour now but we need to look at the other seasons.
“So when TDC markets our festivals outside of Carnival people will be made aware of them and get information on how to participate.” He said so far there was a lot of interest and a short time span but the TDC was working assiduously to market T&T.
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