PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, October 20, 2014 (AMG) —The cancellation of Trinidad’s carnival is the furthest thing from the Ministry of Health’s concerns, according to Minister Dr. Fuad Khan.
Khan delivered these remarks at a forum entitled “Ebola & Carnival 2015” which was hosted by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
Economics of nationalism: Carnival contributes approximately $4.5 billion to T&T’s coffers through high visitor participation and tourist spend. And while there have been comments urging the cancellation of the 2015 festival as the result of the outbreak of the disease, Dr Khan says it is more a matter of looking at economics of self and the economics of nationalism. “The whole aspect is how it is contained,” he explained.
Need for awareness: At present Government has decided to refuse entry to people travelling from West Africa as a precautionary measure. But the panellists believe the bigger issue is not about cancelling the national festival but developing a national awareness that would filter out fear and discrimination.
“A micro level of readiness has not been talked about,” said Dr Tull. “We need an education drive. There needs to be training for workers at the port, immigration, customs, teachers, University lecturers.”
David Lopez, President of the National Carnival Bandleaders Association, said Carnival has become “a whipping boy”. Preparation for Carnival, he said, does not start two months before the festival days, February 16 and 17. Putting the possible cancellation of Carnival in the public domain, he says, has a domino effect which affects all stakeholders, particularly entrepreneurs. While he acknowledges there is much at stake, there must be a responsible approach to dealing with this issue.
“This Ebola threat is not about Carnival. The approach must be about each one teach one,” Lopez said.