Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (FP)

The Crop Over Festival continues to reap significant dividends for Barbados’ key sectors during the months of May to August, as the country continues to wrestle with the fallout from the ongoing economic recession.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart underscored the economic importance of the festival today during a Crop Over Morning Show sponsors’ breakfast at Hilton Barbados.

The Prime Minister said: "The Crop Over Festival has grown to represent a key peak period for Barbados during the summer as a tourist destination both in terms of visitor arrivals and revenue generation for the tourism industry, as evidenced by a month-to-month comparison of arrival figures over a number of years."??

Mr. Stuart also alluded to the employment opportunities created outside of the accommodation sector in the area of ancillary services. "For example, car rental companies, restaurants, bars and taxi operators, are some of the beneficiaries of the increased activity during this period.?? Crop Over is an outstanding event where both large and small suppliers share in the benefits that flow from the influx of visitors," he added.

Cognisant of the importance of the cultural and creative industries to the island’s development, the Prime Minister said this had led to the expansion of employment opportunities especially for the youth in various areas.

"A number of event organisers and promoters; lighting and sound companies; and tent rental enterprises just to name a few, have mushroomed in recent years to service the Crop Over Festival; while giving young people more opportunities to use their vast array of skills.?? There are also several temporary jobs created in catering; the setting up of event management companies; the [establishment of additional] security companies; calypso tents; band houses and transportation, all because of the Crop Over Festival," Mr. Stuart surmised.

He further stated: "So, when we talk about the approximately $80 million generated by the festival, that is no idle boast. That [money] does not go directly into the NCF’s coffers but rather, into the pockets of various enterprising Barbadians, who choose to see the value [of the Festival] and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves."????

Mr. Stuart also said that businesses such as boutiques and nail salons were "always happy to know that Crop Over is coming because the ladies, and I dare say the gents too, make sure that they are prepared for the various events, and that is economic activity created for the small business person during this period".

Such activity he noted, generated revenue across the island.?? In light of this, the Prime Minister reminded sponsors that their continued assistance was needed to make the festival work for all Barbadians.

Mr. Stuart said it was the mandate of the NCF to promote growth in all aspects of the festival to the benefit of all Barbadians and appealed to the stakeholders to continue to assist with the successful staging of the event.

"We greatly appreciate the fact that you, like our other stakeholders, have engaged in continued dialogue with the board and staff of the NCF over the years in an effort to make the festival better.?? The government remains committed to playing its part in the development of the Crop Over Festival, but we need your support as astute business persons, to join us as we continue to generate activity through this festival which is now of international renown," he emphasised.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that an expanded festival would result in increased costs of production and cautioned that "no effort must be spared to ensure that the benefits and rewards from the festival increase at a higher rate than the costs".

Mr. Stuart expressed the hope that the 2013 Crop Over Festival would be bigger and better than this year’s festival and would leave a lasting impression at the local, regional and international levels.

He added: "Your sponsorship is vital to the success of this festival. As sponsors, you understand that the cultural industries are of major social, political and economic significance to our country.?? I acknowledge your past contributions in sponsorship and I must place on record, my sincere appreciation to those dedicated supporters who, inspite of the economic downturn of the last few years, have remained committed to the festival."

The Prime Minister said long-term commitments from all stakeholders were needed if the island was to achieve the goal of making the Crop Over Festival "represent the best of Barbados in all facets".


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