Carnival is an important revenue generator for many different sectors in this country.
“By its nature, the Carnival season generates significant economic activity across several sectors including, entertainment, security, media, hospitality and retail, normally providing a boost for the domestic economy over a period of at least six weeks,” economist and manager at Republic Bank Garvin Joefield stated in his column, The Tabanca is Real- A look at how a Carnival free year disrupted the economy.
And this was no hyperbole as several companies across various sectors cited the absence of Carnival last year for losses in revenue in the first quarter of 2021.
Prestige Holdings recorded a $56 million drop in revenue for the three months ended February 28 last year when compared to the same period in 2020.
“In comparison to 2021, our first quarter in 2020 occurred before the onset of the effects of the global pandemic and also had the benefit of Carnival falling within that period, which is a significant period of revenue for our company,” Prestige’s chairman Christian E Mouttet stated in his report to shareholders.
Prestige Holdings is a restaurant management company which operates popular brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and TGI Fridays.
The West Indian Tobacco Company also recorded a fall in revenue of $33 million for the first quarter of last year.
“These results reflect the continued impact of COVID-19 and the absence of Carnival celebrations during this period,” Witco’s chairman Anthony E Phillip stated in his review for the period.
Even us here at Guardian Media were not left untouched by the absence of Carnival.
“Revenues for the three months ending March 31, 2021 were $22.4 million, a reduction of $5.9 million or 21 per cent versus the same period in the prior year. Year-over-year decline in revenue performance was due to continued impact of COVID-19 and resulting cancellation of Carnival,” the chairman of Guardian Media Peter Clarke stated in the company’s results for the period ended March 31, 2021.
According to a 2014 article of Association of Caribbean States “revenue from Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival exceeds on average US$100 million.” Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell told the Upper House on Tuesday that no decision has been made about Carnival 2022 as yet.
Speaking to the Business Guardian president of the T&T Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) Grant Taylor said while the media has been financially impacted by the absence of Carnival and the pandemic itself, the loss of revenue can never compare to the loss of life.
“It is not just the loss of Carnival. This pandemic has hit everybody very hard, the media is no exception to that,” Taylor said.
“Safety is always going to be priority number one I am not going to second guess the government on that. Revenue will never come before people’s lives or safety,” he said.
Taylor said the TTPBA has been instrumental in campaigning in various areas for people’s safety with regard COVID.
“So we have been part of the campaign about mask-wearing and hand washing and sanitisation and vaccination awareness. We joined with all of the Chambers to have awareness programmes just to try and keep people safe,” he said.
While many companies were adversely affected financially, for Carib Brewery has a different experience.
According to an advertising campaign by Ross Advertising the three saddest words were “Carnival is cancelled.”
While the five most assuring words were “Hold on to the Carnival.”
Following the campaign Carib who previously anticipated a 2.5 decline in sales were able to record a 9.8 per cent increase.
“Yet look at the increase in sales from the previous year before the pandemic. What was responsible for Carib’s huge increase amidst the pandemic when there was a cancellation of Carnival and bars closed?” Ernie Ross stated.
“We ran a nostalgic campaign themed Hold on to the Carnival. It was all about identifying the intangible value of the brew and its association with the Carnival revelry and lime. Against the grain of all the negativity and closures we deployed the Intangience branding methodology of intangible values and the science of human connection to deliver results that defied the prevailing market circumstances,” he stated.
Ross said this was an example of how adversity can be turned into opportunity.
“It was based upon the principle that Carnival couldn’t be really cancelled as it would live within each of us no matter what. ‘Hold on to the Carnival’ went viral overnight and resonated to the extent seen in the overwhelming sales figures as consumers went out and emotionally invested in the brew,” he said.
Ross said this year Carib will persist with its surge of optimism and celebration of a festival that can never leave us.
“If last year is anything to go by, the response will carry far beyond the empty streets to fill the hearts and minds of a public that is always ready to celebrate life. In this way we can be assured the Carnival lives on within us,” Ross said.