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Senate Looks For Accountability of Funds For Carnival and Festival

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A St. Thomas senator says “the territory has made a momentous step towards economic diversification, revenue generation and cultural revitalization.”

Bill No. 32-0308, a bill creating the Division of Festivals and the Cultural Heritage Institute under the Department of Tourism, has been signed into law by Governor Kenneth Mapp after being unanimously passed by the Senators of the 32nd Legislature!

The bill sponsored by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw and Senator Myron D. Jackson, will rename the “Carnival and Festival Committee Revolving Fund” to the “Division of Festivals Revolving Fund,” which will defund the individual Festival and Carnival Committees as we know it and create a Division of Festivals.

The Division will consist of a Director of Festivals and three Assistant Directors, one for each island, who will be responsible for organizing and executing Carnival/Festivals and other non-Carnival cultural exposès.

Coupled with the transfer and revitalization of the Cultural Heritage Institute, other Festival opportunities in the territory showcasing local foods, music, art, and more, can now get the support and marketing necessary to increase Virgin Islands cultural awareness and national pride, as well as to attract travelers who are interested in other non-Carnival experiences.

For years there have been various issues related to the noncompliance, mismanagement and no accountability of government funds as it relates to our local Carnival and Festivals.

The Virgin Islands Carnival and Festivals, which have been in existence for sixty plus years, have not yet been able to quantify the revenues generated for the Territory. Under the Department of Tourism Division of Festivals, the marketing and branding of the Virgin Islands’ overall cultural product and experience should be enhanced.

This shift is also expected to result in greater accountability and transparency of the millions expended on Carnival/Festivals each year. “We have done extensive research on this and found that many other countries have identified the revenue possibilities from Carnival and Festivals — centralizing structures to maximize their investment, enhance and expand marketing strategies and in turn drastically increase revenue generation.

The various festivities of the Virgin Islands can now be marketed and branded worldwide using the resources and organized systemic structure of the Department of Tourism.

It is time that a system is put in place to quantify and increase revenue generation by developing and marketing our cultural tourism product, enhancing visitor experience and reviving national pride,” stated Senator Sarauw.

“With the establishment of the Division of Festivals and the revitalization of the Cultural Heritage Institute under the Department of Tourism, we look forward to working alongside and supporting the Department of Tourism under the new Commissioner, for the 2020 launch,” Sarauw said.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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