What a Year Without Caribbean Carnival Means for the Region – Cond Nast Traveler

With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, the current climate is impacting revenue well into the future. Haitian American Carl Napoleon, CEO and founder of Carnival Jumpers, says that even though governments have not announced final decisions on 2021 events, many of his clients have decided not to risk it. People have already begun canceling bookings for 2021. Theyre sad about not celebrating with their friends, but COVID has them leery about going anywhere, let alone a large event like Carnival.

Out of necessity, the industry has already begun rethinking what Carnival will look like down to roadand how to keep the spirit alive. Despite the obvious losses, many see the Caribbeans tenacity shining through. Kelvin Jacob, CEO of the Grenada Spicemas Corporation (which runs a festival of the same name), sees virtual experiences as an opportunity.

Grenada has become innovative in its quest to keep the excitement about Carnival sustained into 2021, with virtual events throughout the festival period," says Jacob. The events have already begun with live virtual Carnival City shows held every Thursday via YouTube and Facebook, showcasing local artists and their music, to culminate in a virtual Grand Concert on August 9.

For others, COVID-19 has been a reason to turn inwardand reconsider who Carnival is really for. Jules Sobion, CEO of Caesars Army and creative director of Rogue Mas, is thinking about a Carnival thats solely about the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Our Carnival is a very sensory product, so I think its difficult to apply social distancing measures, especially on the road or in the ftes," says Sobion. "My vision for Trinidad and Tobago Carnival in 2021 would be totally localwith the borders closed, unless a vaccine is foundwhich will give the country the opportunity to rethink, re-strategize, and repackage our holistic cultural product.

Missing Carnival has ultimately left many, like Trinidadian blogger Marissa Charles, founder of Global Carnivalist, reminiscing on how much of the experience they once took for granted. I feel like there are certain aspects of Caribbean culture that I took for granted and appreciate much more now," she says. "I genuinely miss the freedom of a Carnival parade, being in a crowd without feeling paranoid about COVID, and the sense of community that Caribbean culture provides. Being unable to celebrate ourselves month after month has been devastating.

Even without a physical presence, the message of Carnival is still clear: The Caribbeans greatest strength is in its unity. It is this togetherness, and commitment to tradition, that Sobion feels will get islands through this challenge. This is a time for metamorphosis for the entire industry and all of its stakeholders. Lets all come together and use this pandemic as the proverbial cocoon, in which we will transform from our old way of life and emerge into something new and beautiful for the entire world to see.

We're reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find all of our coronavirus coverage and travel resources here.

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What a Year Without Caribbean Carnival Means for the Region - Cond Nast Traveler

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