I happen to believe that the steelband is our most valuable cultural asset , capable of attracting foreign tourists to Trinidad and Tobago to experience the best steelband environment in the world , and even capable of encouraging them to consider purchasing a pan from the world’s best steelpan makers on their departure.
Since Panorama is the major focus of steelbands today , such an environment is already available in Trinidad with the Large Bands Category Panorama finals, and I believe it can be duplicated in Tobago of a similar high quality with the best of the Medium Bands having their final night in the sister isle.
And of course, we should not discount the value of encouraging our steelbands to participate in other activities besides Panorama at carnival time.
Because I’m convinced that the future of the steelband movement in T&T is tied to foreign tourism bringing in foreign currency, since ways can and should be found to ensure that the steelbands share in any such revenues added to the nations coffers.
Note that I emphasize “foreign” tourism. Because I’m of the opinion that most of the visitors to T&T at carnival time are ex-pats , their friends and relatives.
We have to do much better than that.
And this is also not about inter-island travel, or whether visitors go to Tobago , San Fernando, or Port of Spain.It’s about increasing the revenue from foreign currency to the coffers of the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
Therefore this has little to do with the local fans or even about the costs and logistics.There should still be enough Panorama activities in Trinidad to satisfy even the most ardent Panorama fan, while boosting the festival in the sister isle.
And I consider the additional expenses to be “seed” money , as with any business investment.Increased tourist revenue should be more than enough income to justify the extra funding.
And this is why I support the decision to hold the Medium Band Finals in Tobago , to expand the competition and increase options for visitors.
But , this is not just an issue for pan people.
My question is whether the government, people and private business sector of T&T are serious about developing tourism as a viable industry in T&T , and whether we have the infrastructure in place to support a substantial increase in Tourism.
Unfortunately , I have doubts about that.
I have lived in the Boston area for 45 years , and I’ve yet to see advertising on television or in local media extolling the virtues of T&T as you do for other countries, encouraging visitors to our beautiful country to enjoy our arts , culture and natural resources.
The local economy is relatively small, and along with funding from government subsidies and sponsors , can only provide a limited amount of financial support to the art-form to enable and ensure the growth that we all desire.
Without a substantial increase in tourist revenue , directly resulting from steelband activities, I do not see much growth in the steelbands overall available revenues, and the potential of our beloved art-form remains unfulfilled.
The local carnival dollar can only stretch so far , after all.