The Crop Over season is heating up with the release of music, band launches as well as themed events, and officials are promising an even bigger and better festival. There is no doubt that our cultural extravaganza generates revenue and economic activity to benefit the whole country. However, we must also execute responsible branding and advertising so that revellers and patrons remain as safe as possible.
There is considerable buzz surrounding Crop Over, which has moved a long way from its early spontaneous and modest celebrations. These days, it is a million dollar enterprise – over $100 million is estimated to be generated in the economy and has a trickle-down effect to all sectors of the industry. Headlined by our own Rihanna and boosted by appearances by the likes of Lewis Hamilton, local, regional and international celebrities who have been making the trek to these shores each year. This has generated priceless advertising and online social media reach that would be impossible to garner otherwise. Tourism officials recently indicated that they plan to target more regional visitors, and that interest from Trinidad and Tobago was particularly high. When one considers that 2016 is the 50th year of Independence celebrations, and factor in many returning nationals, it is strongly anticipated that the Sweetest Summer Festival will indeed hit another high note this year.
Officials and event organisers who are busy creating the ultimate party experience must also be mindful of broadcasting responsible messages to their patrons and ensuring, as much as possible, their general well-being. For example, the Central Bank has recently issued a directive to the public to be vigilant about counterfeit notes. These notes appear more often in circulation during heightened commercial activity like Crop Over and Christmas. Deputy Director, Currency of the Central Bank, Octavia Gibson has urged persons to check notes for security features to ensure they receive the right money, adding that, “Counterfeiters are counting on you to be too busy and too distracted to check your money.” It is a warning that all partygoers and vendors should heed, especially since they may be caught up in the atmosphere or large crowds.
Furthermore, there is concern about alcoholic consumption and driving. We are aware that local brands ensure their advertising comes with a warning to be responsible in consuming alcoholic products. However, we believe promoters should repeatedly push the message at events to their patrons that designated drivers or optional modes of getting home must be considered when partying. With a history of drinking in the country that involves “firing one for the road”, we should exercise maximum caution in this area, particularly as many songs openly promote the consumption of alcohol, a dictate that may be difficult to ignore in a social setting.
We are grateful for our indigenous celebrations and the records that are reached each year. With additional tourists coming to our shores, we will be, as usual, gracious hosts and ensure they have an enjoyable experience. However, let us also mix the responsible messages with the fun atmosphere for a safe festival for all.

Barbados Advocate

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