T&T’s attractiveness as a Carnival destination has been one of the consistent things about us. This year, however, was always going to be different.
With two years of COVID-19 forcing its cancellation, T&T touched uncharted ground in having to restart our show unsure of the post-pandemic prospects amid ongoing health concerns and higher cost of living globally.
Last year’s Taste of Carnival was a helpful gauge, as the few events attracted thousands. Another measure, more so of international demand, was Tribe Carnival and Machel Montano’s Mele Destination Cruise event in Cancun, Mexico, last April, which replicated T&T’s Carnival and attracted a huge turnout.
Yet, because the cost to Americans travelling to Mexico in the spring is significantly cheaper than travelling to T&T in the winter, it wasn’t a trustworthy gauge.
This Carnival, therefore, was the only real way to know how the international community would respond.
By the middle of the season, however, we got answers, as international flights and hotels were around 80 per cent capacity.
As the season neared its end, we knew this year’s Carnival had been a resounding success via the number of people coming to T&T for the revelry.
While we must address the availability of flights for next year’s event, the high demand this year was also a good sign that our Carnival brand, one of our biggest foreign revenue earners, is still strong.
The arrival of international stars like West Indies batsman Chris Gayle dancing his way through Piarco International Airport, broadcast to an audience of over four million on his social media platform, helped to remind the world that our product remains exciting and attractive.
And while we are grateful for Gayle’s act, we are also happy for the exposure brought by daughter of the soil, mega international rapper Nicki Minaj.
Minaj is among the top female artistes in the world and commendably, her rise to stardom has seen her connect her followers to her homeland.
Her 2012 collaboration with Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, Pound the Alarm, was shot in Belmont and featured the culture and scenery of T&T extensively. It has since been viewed 280 million times on Youtube.
Her return to T&T in 2020 for Carnival was also extensively covered by traditional and online media and the same applied to her return this year, as she again exposes T&T to her vast following with videos and photos on her 211 million-strong Instagram page.
Her exposure also includes a Youtube link to the soca Shake the Place by Montano and Destra Garcia, in which she sings a few verses as well.
Minaj has even posted a video with Montano, Destra and Patrice Roberts, labelling it as “Legendary footage of the greats of my country,” and expressed her pride in them and in T&T.
This exposure, that reaches beyond her multi-million following to millions more via online shares and other media coverage, is a gift from Minaj to T&T that gives our Carnival a major boost.
This is the type of marketing we cannot afford as a small country and for which we must be grateful.
With the existing strength of the Carnival product and the added marketing from Minaj and other celebrities, T&T’s Carnival is certainly poised for a future success.