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SCDF making giant steps towards more sustainable Carnival product

The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) is looking forward to the cooperation of companies that want to gain a commercial benefit from Carnival events inside the Carnival Village in making the event more sustainable for the long-term. Since the close of Carnival 2015, the SCDF has stated publicly on numerous occasions that Carnival cannot survive financially if immediate efforts aren’t made towards establishing the event on a solid financial foundation.

With that in mind, the foundation set out to “cut extra fat”, streamline its operations and identify ways to generate “new money”. Failure to do so would have resulted in the foundation being forced to increase or implement Carnival fees across the board.

To avoid having to do that, over the past few months the foundation inked agreements with third parties that saw the outsourcing of all Carnival pageants, cost-heavy activities were eliminated, increased corporate contributions vis-à-vis visibility/presence in Carnival Village and signed a concession agreement with International Liquors Tobacco and Trading (ILTT), a dedicated and long standing Carnival sponsor.

This concession agreement, which comes with a significant financial injection for the SCDF, effectively prevented the significant increase of booth holders fees, the rotating of booths (though at higher fees) so that other people get the opportunity to operate a booth. This change also stopped the increase in the promoters fees and entrance fees to local shows ect. SCDF used its prerogative as a private entity to negotiate contracts and sponsorships and chose ILTT as a partner based on its longstanding partnership with the company, and its plan to include other contributing brands.

Director of the SCDF Mike Granger provided more clarity on the beverage concession within the Carnival Village. “The agreement, in a nutshell, designates ILTT as Carnival’s agent responsible for agreements with third parties regarding the distribution of beverages in Carnival Village.” To provide further clarity, Granger said ILTT has made an agreement with the SCDF to make St. Maarten Carnival more sustainable ‎over the coming years, helping the foundation to overcome the fiscal challenges within government and the private sector.

He continued to clarify the details of the partnership. “We need to dispel some unfortunate rumors. The agreement is not a ban of other liquor companies from the Village and it will not prevent booth holders from shopping at supermarkets. Booth holders can buy the products listed on the ‘Contributing Brand List’ from the sales booth in the Village or bring it in themselves. The companies that want to gain a commercial benefit from the events inside Carnival Village are being asked to contribute on a greater scale.” Granger explained.

“Our beverage agent (ILTT) has been reaching out to liquor and beverage companies since September to answer any questions they may have and arrive at an amicable business relationship. We are more than willing to have the discussion as we have shown the initiative. Again, we encourage the other companies to simply have a chat with our agent as we are progressing with the organizing of Carnival 2016,” Granger said.

ILTT is a firm believer in supporting the SCDF and Carnival, and has been doing so consistently for many years. Granger said ILTT’s sizable contribution to the SCDF in advance of the event, enables the budget and management of Carnival to become more viable. Because of this commitment, and the commitment of a few other key contributors, and hopefully the other liquor and beverage companies as well, the SCDF will now have operational funds to meet most of its obligations to its stakeholders, local and abroad, well before the event kicks off.

“We cannot execute the modern Carnival product based on a model of 20 years ago. It’s just not possible and that’s simple math and reality. We are doing our utmost to keep the festival enjoyable for everyone, to maintain its status as St. Maarten’s biggest annual event that produces educational, cultural and major economic spin-offs for our country. For that to continue, it has to be sustainable,” Granger concluded.

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