NCC large band of the year Kinetic Mas Ltd presentation of Mas Pieta, masqueraders cross the Queen’s Park Savannah stage on Carnival Tuesday.

Chester Sambrano

There is now a possible lifeline for the thousands who depend and look forward to Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival, as Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell says he is weighing the possibility of staging it later than February of next year.

His comment came a day after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that Carnival 2021 is not on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This sent shockwaves throughout the country, particularly among key stakeholders, some of whom called for the “Greatest show on earth” to be held virtually.

One of the voices adding to that call was Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

However, in a WhatsApp exchange with Guardian Media yesterday, Mitchell said all was not yet lost.

“So yes, with the aim of generating economic activity, consideration will be given to having carnival celebrations later in the year. This would also assist in reviving and revitalising the creative sector and all the sectors that support this festival and its events,” Mitchell said.

He explained that the very nature of the Carnival as we know it generates a great amount of economic activity.

“Visitor spend alone, according to the CSO, is upwards of $50 million US dollars,” he added.

Mitchell explained that any decision to host Carnival celebrations later in the year would be made “only on the advice and go-ahead from the Ministry of Health and its officials on the progress made and elimination of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a media release yesterday, Mitchell also said his ministry is working to ensure Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival remains “at the forefront of the global Carnival landscape.”

He agreed with the Prime Minister that it cannot be business as usual, noting that it is critical the country’s health and safety are not jeopardised.

“Currently, we are engaging stakeholders to explore how Trinidad and Tobago can retain its time and space on the international Carnival calendar, to solidify this country’s position as the home of Carnival,” Mitchell explained.

The current calendar dates had set aside February 15 and 16 for the culmination of Carnival 2021.

Now, the task of engaging stakeholders to see what the options are will be the task of the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the governing body which oversees Carnival celebrations.

On CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday, NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters said he was not ruling out the idea of a virtual Carnival but maintained it must make economical sense.

“Carnival is not just for us to show off ourselves. Carnival is something that is a money earner and a foreign exchange earner for Trinidad and Tobago. Carnival is business, Carnival is not just about jump and wine,” he said.

He said it cannot be a case where “it is just something we are just going to do to say that we are doing something and we are just putting on a virtual carnival.”

He said as a country we have to understand why we are doing it, what we want to achieve by doing it and as long as we can come up with those answers, “definitely we are going to do it.”