(CMR) CayMAS is moving ahead with its plans to hold the annual carnival during Discovery Day weekend (May 14-18) despite the government's efforts to merge it with Batabano.
Caymas Carnival NPO has made a public statement indicating they are not in support of the Government's mandate that they hold their carnival the same weekend as Batabano.
In a press release issued earlier this week, they stated that whilst they appreciate the Ministry's attempts to “facilitate a unification of the two carnival entities” they do not believe the chose weekend will be successful. The main reason appears that the Ministry has chosen Mother's Day weekend for the joint carnivals.
The release continued:
The proposed dates by the Ministry are not the solution to realise the full potential of the Cayman Carnival product. CayMAS has made efforts through formal proposals to justify the necessity for the Discovery Day Weekend as the optimal dates.
This date change will not be beneficial to the growth of our Carnival Tourism product based on our research and discussions with outside potential patrons as well as with influential international Carnival Media Houses. Simply put, not many will leave family, particularly mothers, on Mother’s Day weekend to come to a Carnival.
CayMAS Carnival is not a Government entity nor do we receive major funding from the Government to operate. CayMAS is a Non-profit Organisation who has created and delivered a first-class Carnival product that has competed with regional Carnivals from inception.
CayMAS wants to do what is in the best interest of those involved whom have invested a lot into the success of CayMAS Carnival by ensuring the optimal date and presentation for our Carnival. There are many Caymanian businesspeople who benefit from what we have created on Discovery Day Weekend, through events held on Carnival weekend and those who participate in the CayMAS Soca Monarch competition. CayMAS does not cannibalise the events for our Carnival but instead endorse events hosted by local promoters.
Also, CayMAS has not affected the other entity that also does their festivities on the same Discovery Day weekend. It has been stated on several occasions that they are doing just fine on that weekend and have continued to sell out.
We wish to again clarify the following points that we have presented to justify CayMAS to operate on Discovery Day Weekend:
- The proposed date for carnival unification falls on Mother’s Day weekend, celebrated both locally and regionally. Hosting this event on the proposed weekend poses problems for local and visitor participation, as potential visiting masqueraders will be reluctant to travel away from their mothers at that time. Commerce calculations estimate a loss of CI$1.5 Million in travel revenue due to this major conflict.
- To create a conducive traffic flow strategy that allows us to create as little disruption as possible to business’ operations, CayMAS has created Road Maps with strategically blocked portions of the road with a time schedule of the roadblocks for the parade, as opposed to blocking the entire parade route for its duration. CayMAS has not only provided these maps to the RCIPS but has also publicly published them on Social Media, our websites, and traditional media avenues. It must be noted that the longest Road Blockage for the entire day is only 2hrs.
- CayMAS has made a commitment to cleanliness as a part of the CayMAS experience, with a professional Cleaning Company for the Road at the backend of the parade to ensure cleaning is done as we go. The burden is not placed on the Department of Environmental Health to come behind and clean the streets after the festivities have concluded.
- CayMAS Carnival has committed to compensate the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for their extended services on Carnival Day and will continue to work in partnership to ensure that minimal obstruction is felt by the public at large and to ensure the safety of both participants and spectators.
- Residents of the Cayman Islands have historically chosen to travel off island during long weekends, this has obvious negative economic ramifications for local businesses. By hosting a national event like CayMAS Carnival on a long weekend, locals are incentivised to remain, facilitating economic injection that would otherwise be lost. Through the Department of Commerce we have confirmed that the economic state of the Cayman Islands experienced a boom during the Discovery Day long weekend over the last 3 years.
- The very first Cayman Billfish Rundown Tournament was held on Monday 13th May 2019 – Friday 17th May 2019. Participants from around the world travelled to Grand Cayman to indulge in multiple days of fishing, Caribbean cuisine, local activities and ended by celebrating in CayMAS Carnival, all the registered Billfish participants participated in the festivities of CayMAS. CayMAS and the Cayman Billfish Rundown are both integral pieces in the long weekend experience that will indeed bring more tourism, annually.
Justification for The Discovery Day Weekend
Below we have listed conflicts within the region on alternative dates for the Carnival. We want to be able to host this event during the traditional slow season of the Cayman Islands tourism and Discovery Day is the most ideal.
- Bahamas Carnival resides on the first week of May every year with the Bahamian Government and other entities investing millions into their carnival product.
- Bermuda Heroes Weekend, which is their carnival celebration, resides on the long weekend in June, when we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday, making this date very challenging as well.
- Jamaica Carnival resides on the weekend after Easter, some years it being the last week of April. The Jamaican market has been a huge source of our travelling patrons and it is imperative that we carefully consider our local dates to avoid conflict with this lucrative resource.
- Memorial Day Weekend is a major federal holiday in the United States and sits on the last weekend in May. The US being a major source of Carnival Tourism, it would pose a significant challenge if we were to assume this date, as it is a heavily celebrated occasion with numerous events nationwide.
- Mother’s Day Weekend is celebrated regionally, including in North America, on the second week of May. Interfering with this solemn occasion is the Ministry’s choice, however, we at CayMAS believe that this poses a significant conflict of ideals that will result in overall decreased participation.
- July Holiday weekend is not a great option either; if you think it’s hot in May what do you think about July?
CayMAS conducted a brief 24-hour survey in July on the 2020 Carnival dates. Simple results showed that 88% voted for a Long Weekend, 81% voted against Mother’s Day and 72% agreed not to do Carnival on a Short Weekend. A total of 795 people responded in just 24 hours.
We at CayMAS have a combined 50+ years of experience in management of Carnival, masqueraders, costume designs and organisation of Carnival events. Having consulted with all stakeholders on our end, after the premature press release of dates and the mass confusion that ensued, we reiterate that we remain focused on bringing a premium Carnival product that does not interfere with the Mother’s Day weekend of celebrations while also finding a Carnival date that is internationally identifiable as our own.
It is also worth mentioning that it is CayMAS’ agenda to continue to invest in the cultural aspect of carnival so that it continues to develop and flourish year after year. CayMAS Carnival has engaged our local performers in the arts and music through our Soca Monarch and Pan competitions featuring local artistes and songwriters.
In conclusion, our mission is to continue to enhance our product that can be enjoyed locally, as well as a Carnival that will be considered as a carnival tourism destination and attract a substantial number of visitors for the Cayman Islands.
Our commitment to excellence is unrelenting and firm, and we invite all who share this commitment to work with us. CayMAS has always welcomed all masquerading Bands that share our vision to be a part of our carnival and our mandate remains the same, to become the best Boutique Carnival in the Industry.
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