SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) would like to issue the following statement in response to comments made today by the Minister of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications) and the Prime Minister.
The SCDF on Wednesday said its responsibility is to always prepare for Carnival, the island's biggest festival and it will continue to do so until it is clear that it cannot execute Carnival 2021 based on the plan it has developed for a safe festival.
The foundation said while the Prime Minister and Minister of TEATT are free to comment as they see fit, the public should also be aware that the foundation have tried to involve the two Ministers.
It was the Minister of TEATT who in October directed SCDF to meet with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau to discuss Carnival, which we did and discussed preliminary plans. It's a pity the Minister did not mention this, especially considering our initial request for a meeting was since June 2.
The SCDF also requested a meeting with the PM since October 13 to apprise her of the plans and see how and on what timetable we can move forward. To date, we have not been granted such a meeting despite follow-up requests.
We think as a matter of principle before dubbing the foundation as irresponsible, the PM could have said she has yet to grant the foundation a meeting to discuss its plans and will withhold comment until then. Please note SCDF also did not disclose any of its plans before meeting with the PM. We simply said we are preparing to host the festival.
Furthermore, we find it disappointing that the SCDF, who had to withstand heavy criticism and legal financial threats when it agreed to the responsible action of postponing Carnival just two weeks before the first event was scheduled to be held in 2020, would now be called irresponsible by the PM. It should be noted that there were proponents within government calling for a Carnival to be still held in the summer of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and SCDF would have no part of that.
Having to cooperate with government on an annual basis the SCDF is always very aware of the importance of an information trail and does its utmost to communicate with government. The foundation was quite clear about the realities it and its stakeholders face if the festival had to be postponed again and as such is planning accordingly. It is also to be seen if the "no mass gatherings" will we adapted and if it will be applied across the board equally to all events.
We have to plan in order to execute a festival the size of Carnival, even if no-one is sure about what the world will look like in a few months. We want to be ready come-what-may and that is what we are doing and look forward to a meeting with government soon to discuss Carnival.