Each year, the Mayor hosts the media, community leaders and members of the Caribbean Diaspora for an evening of fun, food, fellowship to recognize the outstanding contributions of the Caribbean-American community to life in New York City. While contributions are also felt back home in the region by way of remittances, medical missions, trade and the transfer of skills and other resources, Labor Day presents an opportunity for Caribbean tourist boards, investment banks, telecommunications companies, wire transfer outfits and the like to reach the burgeoning Diaspora market.
Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis Walcott, who traces his roots to Barbados and St. Croix, recognizes that while Caribbean-Americans make an incredibly positive contribution to America, more should be done by Caribbean-based marketers to tap into the overseas-based Caribbean-American travel and tourism market.
"The marketing back to the Caribbean is extremely important and I think there is an opportunity to get people who are in the Caribbean to market here in New York City," said Walcott, who does not feel that enough is being done. "There is an untapped resource of people in New York City who are Caribbean (and who are not Caribbean) to go back home and spend the dollars and be tourists there," he said, adding dollars will flow more steadily to the region once marketers can effectively "tap into the vein" that's here.
The Thursday Haiti benefit event will feature triple Grammy winner and Haitian hip hop star Wyclef Jean who according to media reports (at press time) may be considering a run to become Haiti's next president. Calypso revolutionary David Rudder from Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent's soca artiste Kevin Lyttle and the incredibly talented kompa group Carimi are set to mesmerize patrons at this premier Carnival curtain-raiser.
On Friday, it's the official Stay in School Concert for children as well as Brass Fest, featuring top soca acts, while the Junior Carnival parade is set for Saturday. Brass Fest acts include Machel Montano, Edwin Yearwood and Krosfyah, Destra, JW and Blaze, Lady Saw, and Tallpree. Saturday night features the Steel Band Panorama competition, while the Dimanche Gras calypso show will be held on Sunday, September 5. The Labor Day parade on Monday begins at Eastern Parkway and Schenectady Avenue at 11 a.m.
Bevan Springer, a New York Amsterdam News columnist who writes frequently on travel and tourism issues, is the President of the New Jersey-headquartered Marketplace Excellence, Inc. - a full service, integrated marketing agency committed to excellence in the fields of public relations, marketing and media coaching. He also produces the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism - CMEx.