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Easter Festivities: A Boost to Tourism and much more

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Fri, Apr 13. 2012

Organisers of the Easter weekend’s activities in the Grenadine islands of Bequia and Union Island are basking in the success of this year’s efforts. Growing in popularity each year, the Bequia Easter Regatta and the Easterval package in Union Island each made their mark for yet another year.{{more}}

Both succeeded once again in attracting wide participation, from other Caribbean islands as well as from North and South America, Europe and the United Kingdom. Significantly, too, the festivals continue to attract participation from the so-called “mainland” island of St. Vincent, a factor which can only contribute to forging closer unity and friendship between the people of the multi-island state, long plagued by suspicion and prejudice.

The Bequia Regatta was able to attract boats and yachts from as far as Austria, the Netherlands and the U.K. in the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean, the United States of America on the opposite side of the Atlantic divide, strong presence from the French department of Martinique in the Caribbean, and a host of neighbouring mariners from Trinidad, Grenada, Carriacou, Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua.

But that was not all, for, even if temporarily, the Regatta brought together representatives of the political ‘tribes’ in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, Government Senator Elvis Charles, Northern Grenadines Parliamentarian Dr. Godwin Friday and ULP’s Grenadines Affairs representative Herman Belmar, all shared the stage. In our charged political atmosphere, we can only wish for much more of the same.

The Union Island Easterval has been rising in prominence with the passing of the years. This year, organisers have been able to boast of a “virtual explosion”. The highlight, ‘Miss Easterval’, is now being reckoned by them as being second only to the prestigious ‘Miss Carival’, one of the signal events of Vincy Mas. Not only were there participants from the BVI, Venezuela and its tourist hot-spot of Margarita, Grenada, Barbados and Union’s neighbour, Carriacou, but organisers say that the initiative came from these countries themselves, testifying to the attractiveness of the Festival.

Given the context of a very tight economic situation, with our country, like so many other developing nations, struggling to achieve positive economic growth, the contribution of these Grenadine festivals to the national economy should not be underestimated. Tourism, like many other sectors, is feeling the strain, and every initiative or activity which brings in foreign currency and visitors to our shores, beaches, hotels and restaurants, must surely be welcomed.

We have not yet been quantifying, publicly at least, estimates of what revenue our country earns from festivals like these, but certainly it must be substantial. Qualitatively, too, the Festivals forge bonds of friendship between peoples of the Caribbean and the extra-regional community. One cannot ignore the role that such activities play in eroding the years of distrust between the peoples of St. Vincent on the one hand and the Grenadine islands on the other, forged in the crucible of colonial neglect. These led to calls for secession and a break-up of our multi-island state.

For all these reasons, we can only applaud the successes of the Easter activities in the Grenadine islands and congratulate the organisers and the hospitality of the people of the Grenadines. We urge even greater support for them, both at the official level and at the level of people participation. We must cherish, nurture and work hard to perfect such gems that we possess.

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