Ministry of Culture: Tourists spent $640m for Carnival 2024

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tribe crossing the stage at the Socadrome, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on Carnival Tuesday. – Jeff K. Mayers

Tourists spent an estimated at US$94.2 million or TT$640 million for the 2024 Carnival period according to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

The ministry said there were also increases in attendance at events and visitor arrivals to many aspects of the festival compared to the previous year.

According to a release on February 24, the Carnival season was the 19-day period from January 26 to February 13, 29,651 non-national visitors arrived by air compared to 27,375 in 2023, and 11,793 nationals who live abroad.

Since this year’s Central Statistical Office’s (CSO) survey on visitors stay and expenditure was not yet available, the ministry used data from last year’s exit surveys which said visitors spent on average US$2,251 or TT$15,313 on food, entertainment, accommodation, transport and other amenities.

Therefore, air visitor spending for the Carnival period was estimated at US$93.3 million or TT$634M. These numbers did not take into consideration the 71,010 people who took short visits to TT to attend specific Carnival-related activities such as fetes between January 1-February 13.

There were also approximately 20,423 people who visited on cruise ships. They spent about US$878,189 or TT$5.97 million in total.

The release said, “Data on overall spend on Carnival activities, revenue generated from private fetes and parties held throughout the period are unavailable at this time and will take a significant study to determine the overall economic impact of the Carnival festival.

“Most of the Carnival events were sold out in advance and well patronised overall. Based on the multiplier effect, the injection of TT$640 million into the economy expectedly created a ripple effect that stimulated economic activity in many other sectors.”

It also created business opportunities for numerous artists in several fields including the visual, fashion, music and performing arts, as well as employment opportunities for those in the entertainment, construction, IT, service and other industries.

National Carnival Commission (NCC) events also saw a boost this year.

Panorama had approximately 2,644 more people in attendance than last year, a 20 per cent increase from 12,970 to 15,614. And pay-per-view subscriptions increased by 52 per cent from 1,334 in 2023 to 2,032 in 2024.

An estimated 100,000 people, 30,000 more than last year, attended the John Cupid Carnival Village, at the Queen’s Park Savannah and about 1,200 people, an increase of 500, attended the re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots on Carnival Friday in East Port of Spain.

The ministry said the King and Queens preliminaries and semifinals, the Junior Parade of the Bands and the Senior Parade of Bands competitions saw a 33 per cent increase in patrons from 4,177 in 2023 to 5,575 in 2024. The Dimanche Gras had an 87 per cent increase in patrons from 1,376 to 2,578.

In addition to the subventions the ministry provided to NCC to host Carnival, it also provided approximately $8,395,000 in supplemental financial assistance to over 8,100 people and organisations in the calypso, chutney and steelpan fields.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell was quoted saying, “Our Carnival serves as a powerful testament to our culture’s global appeal. These figures though preliminary, point to the significant economic boost the festival gives the country and do not include the internally generated economic activity caused by the increased multiplier effect.

“It shows the potential of our tourism market and the numbers tell us that despite those who may seek to suggest that this year’s carnival was likely to see a reduction in visitor arrivals, the opposite happened due to the strength of culture and the power of the brand that is our Carnival.”

He added that the ministry was inspired by the success of 2024 Carnival and was committed to working with all stakeholders to make Carnival 2025 more streamlined and unforgettable.