Economic impact of Spicemas

A Trinidad-based consulting firm that was contracted to do an analysis of the Spicemas Festival in Grenada says that the island has a lot of room to make the event more of a financial success.

THE NEW TODAY was able to obtain a copy of the report that was done by the group known as Bloom Consulting Ltd of Valsayn in Trinidad & Tobago.

The 34 page document is based on an economic impact of the 2011 carn ival season.

The consultants identified J’ouvert as the event that attracted most of the visitors to Spicemas, followed by Monday Night Mas, the Parade of the Bands and the GCC/Lime Soca Monarch show.

The events that were least attractive to visitors were Panorama, Pageant Mas, Eat yuh Crix and the Concert of Winners.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces some of the main highlights of the report:




Rationale for the Study


The increasing recognition of carnivals and other festivals as important drivers for diversifying and expanding the Caribbean tourism sector highlights the importance of measuring the range and quantum of impact regional festivals have on their

respective national economies.

It has been shown that other regional festivals like the St. Lucia Jazz festival, the Trinidad Carnival, and Barbados Crop Over make a sizeable contribution to visitor arrivals, visitor expenditures, hotel occupancy rates and spillover effects on their respective cultural industries and wider national economies.

They also encourage strong media value and by extension enhance the image and branding of the destination.

Within this context, Grenada’s Spice Mas festival has triggered growing national debate on the significance and potential impact of the festival to the Grenadian economy.

Spice Mas Festival is the national carnival of Grenada. It comprises a mix of traditional carnival celebrations, notably j’ouvert or ‘jab-jab mas’, and more contemporary festival events such as Soca Monarch and National Queen Show.

The Carnival is showcased predominantly at multiple outdoor venues across the island. Like most other carnivals of the Americas, Grenada Spice Mas Festival was held during the pre-lenten season. However, in 1981 the Festival was shifted to the summer months from June to August, in order to maximise on the potential benefits to be derived from the festival.

Notably, the carnival would no longer compete with the Trinidad Carnival and would be able to capitalise on the influx of returning nationals to the island during the summer months.

As Grenada moves to celebrate its 25th year of Carnival in August, an assessment of the value and contribution of the Festival to the economy is considered timely.




This study seeks to assess the economic impact of the Grenada Spice Mas on the Grenadian economy, particularly in terms of the tourism and travel sectors.

The study also seeks to evaluate the recent performance of the Grenadian Carnival Committee in terms of its management capacity, as well as its financial, operations and human resources capabilities.

The study is to be approached as follows:


(1). A festival management survey focusing on the historical background of the festival, the programme and activities, organisation and staffing, budget and finances, marketing and promotion.


(2). An analysis of a visitor exit survey which involves an evaluation of the direct contribution of festival tourism on the hotel, airlines and entertainment sectors. The analysis also includes demographic and marketing analyses or festival attendees.


(3). An economic impact assessment that includes a cost-benefit evaluation and

an analysis of the division of costs and surplus for the festival.


This report presents the findings coming out of three stages of the data gathering process on the 2011 Spice Mas Festival.

The report details the approaches utilised in conducting the festival management survey and the visitor survey, as well as the analysis derived from these two instruments.


Preliminary Findings


Findings from the management survey indicate that the Grenada Carnival

Committee (GCC) has strived annually to mount a strong cultural tourism product

and brand, amidst the challenges to woo significant sponsorship dollars each year

and maintain substantial investment from government for the Festival.

It is observed that government investment has been declining since 2008, attributed particularly to the prevailing harsh economic circumstances that have been negatively affecting most small developing states.

For the 2011 Festival, government investment amounted to approximately EC$627,000, to cover administrative expenses associated with running the festival as well as primary expenses incurred by carnival special interest groups and GCC’s expenses related to managing and mounting carnival events.

The value of corporate sponsorship into the 2011 Spicemas Festival totaled some EC$923,292, ranging from cash to in-kind.

It appears that earned income from gate receipts is usually the smallest share of

the main sources of Festival income. For the 2011 Carnival, the festival received

funding from UNESCO to encourage the development of the carnival arts dimension of the festival.

Notwithstanding this new source of income, the Festival continued to operate at a deficit on account of large expenditures inherited from the 2009 Carnival. This requires address if the festival’s ROI is to consistently increase in the years to come.

Overall management of the festival has rested primarily on the GCC, which is

essentially an 8-member adhoc committee trusted with the responsibility to plan,

manage and execute a specific set of festival events across Grenada for the


Given the extensive nature of managing a mega event, the Committee has

relied on a number of other governmental agencies and institutions for support.

Thus, the formation of the Spicemas Corporation in June 2011, to be operationalised for the 2012 Carnival to replace the GCC is a welcomed strategic

intervention towards improving the overall planning and management capability of

the Spice Mas Carnival.

The results from the visitor exit survey (204 persons) indicate that 82% of visitors timed their visit to coincide with the Spice Mas festival. Of the total

number of respondents, 77% attended the Spice Mas Festival, with 47% having

attended more than four times.

This statistics gives support to the placement of the festival during the summer months, to encourage the choice of Grenada as a summer destination, and in particular, to draw Grenada nationals living abroad back home.

Interestingly, while many festival attendees (49%) were returning Grenadians, some 50% were non-nationals. The majority of attendees surveyed were

from the US (35%), followed by Caribbean nationals which represented 32% of

attendees surveyed. This suggests that the regional market has potential for growth once strategically tapped.

Visitors surveyed spent an estimated ECS$750.60 daily, which covered an average group of 2 persons. Their average length of stay was 8 to 14 days. The main areas of expenditure were accommodation (33.8%) EC$2,689.20, Spice Mas Events (13.6%) EC$1,085.40, and Other (13.5%) EC$1,080, which mostly comprised expenditure items for family residing in Grenada.

Based solely on the festival visitors surveyed for 2011 (158) and their average

length of stay (11 days) and the average daily expenditure (EC$375.30), it is

estimated that the total expenditure by this group of Spicemas visitors amounted to approximately EC$652,271.40.

This suggests that the Spicemas Festival has notable potential for growth, given that this expenditure reflects only the spending of a portion of festivals attendees.

One of the key indicators in the economic impact assessment is the benefit-to-cost ratio. In the case of the Spicemas Festival the benefit is defined in terms of visitor expenditure while the cost is related to the governmental investment or


For Spicemas Festival 2011, the benefit-to cost analysis shows a ratio of 1.0:1. This ratio is considered to be a conservative estimate given that the visitor expenditure data is based only on the survey respondents who attended the festival.


INTRODUCTION – Terms of Reference


The principal aim of the study is to assess the economic impact of Grenada’s

Spicemas Festival on the Grenada economy, mainly in terms of the tourism and

travel sectors.

The study also evaluates the recent performance of the GCC in terms of its management capacity, as well as it financial, human resource and operational capabilities, particularly for the 2011 Spicemas Festival.

The Study will seek to undertake the following:


(1). Identify a methodology for economic impact assessment (EIA), including the

appropriate metrics for assessing the contribution of Spicemas Festival to the



(2). Measure the economic contribution of Spicemas to the tourism economy,

particularly the travel sector, which can reasonably be attributed to the

Carnival Season


(3). Compare the economic activity during the carnival season with other

months/periods during the year over the last five (5) years;


(4). Conduct a comparative analysis of tourist arrivals in relation to other

months/periods during the year over the last five (5) years.


(5). Engage in fact finding/data collection and identification of principal issues

including issues relating to the institutional capacity and management

capacity related to the Festival.


Methodology Used


The study is platformed on an economic impact assessment model of analysis, to

determine the contribution of the Spicemas Festival to particular sectors of the

Grenada economy.

Research shows that among the various models and approaches to measuring festival impacts, economic impact assessment is widely considered a useful tool for collecting festival data and for measuring festival worth.

Given the increasing importance of hosting festivals as a means of fostering commercial activity and economic development, economic impact assessment tends to be targeted at gauging how festivals stimulate economic activity either directly or indirectly.

The benefits in using such models have been well established; most notably, economic impact models can give a comprehensive outlook not only at economic impacts, but also monetary flows, as well as strategic and competitive implications for the festival.

While majority of economic impact assessment models are heavily reliant on

quantitative methods and data to gauge economic and monetary flows, it is

considered more useful to also include qualitative-based analysis to better under

socio-economic impacts as well as the strategic and competitive implications for

the festival.

This is especially relevant in the context of measuring festivals whose host locations are small developing economies such as those found in the Caribbean, and the analysis derived is needed to chart the future course of the festivals towards their greater sustainability and growth in relation to their respective host economies.

Consequently, the economic impact model utilised in this study comprises a combined use of quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. To this end, the survey research approach is this study’s primary investigative approach.

The survey research approach was initially carried out over a two month period, and involved three separate visits to Grenada by the consultants to meet with key stakeholders and special interest groups at the national and community level.

The specific methods used are as follows:


*a scan of the internet and review of other secondary sources of data, used to develop a situational analysis of the festival landscape of Grenada to contribute to the analysis of the festival management capability, and to aid in a strategic assessment of the Spicemas Festival;


*a visitor survey that targeted persons coming to Grenada during the period

of the Festival. Visitors were polled at the airport after the Festival during their wait in the departure lounge over the period August 10th -August 19th 2011;


*a structured interview with the Chairman of the GCC Mr. Colin Dowe following a festival management survey, to develop a historical context and situational context of the management of the Festival, specifically examining the human resource capacity, financial, operational and overall management capabilities; and,


*structured interviews with corporate sponsors representatives following a

sponsors survey, used to: gain insight into sponsors’ contributions to the festival, estimate their income gained during the festival period both directly and indirectly, assess the performance of their businesses during the festival period as compared to other peak periods during the year, and gain their overall assessment of the Festival’s events to contribute to the analysis of festival management capability.




There are two notable limitations that arose in conducting the study. First, the

LIAT pilots’ strike during the summer months of 2011 delayed Consultants’ arrival

into Grenada as flights were grounded for part of the climax weekend of the


Consequently, we were not able to observe the Festival events during the final weekend. In particular, the strike affected the training of survey administrators for the visitor survey as the trainer was unable to arrive before the period of survey dissemination.

The training initiative therefore had to be abandoned. To address this limitation, the survey was crafted to ensure usability, ease of communication and comprehension between survey administrators and respondents.

Second, the research process has not been able to capture the hospitality sector, primarily due to an apparent lack of interest/willingness by this stakeholder group to complete the hospitality sector survey.

Consultants attempted to administer this survey on three occasions with no success. The final attempt took the form of email dissemination to specific representatives of the hotel sector, which did (not) attain any successful responses.

The study has therefore had to rely on secondary sources of information to make a limited assessment of the sector’s performance.


Report Outline


This report provides the findings of the festival management survey and the visitor survey, following the methodology previously outlined.

The report is broken up into three sections including the Introduction.

The second section presents the findings derived from the festival management

survey, the sponsors survey and desktop research conducted, towards developing a comprehensive outlook on the festival management capacity for the Spicemas Festival, and the surrounding context in which this functions.

The section gives an overview of the festival landscape of Grenada before examining the format and programming of festival events, organisation of the Spicemas festival events, the operationalisation of the festival events by the GCC, and sponsors’ contribution.

The third section provides the findings of the visitor survey, which is the key

research instrument used to assess economic impact, in particular the tourism

impact which is a key objective of the wider Spicemas Festival report.

The section gives an overview of those interviewed, including data on the demographics of the respondents (e.g. gender, age, occupation, residence) and travel-related information (e.g. airlines, accommodation type, group size, participation in events) and general data on visitor expenditures.

The section also examines the group of visitors who attended SpiceMas festival events, and provides more detailed information on the demographics, travel-related information, visitor expenditures, visitor satisfaction, sources of market information, events participation, visit to attractions and length of stay.

This group of visitors can be defined as the purposeful visitors who came specifically for the festival and as such can be called festival tourists.


Survey of Festivals


Like most other countries in the region, Grenada has an annual calendar of festivals and festival events that are unique to Grenada and which reflect the local traditions and culture of Grenada.

The calendar features a mix of cultural festivals, religious festivals and marine sports festivals. There appears to be a leaning towards marine sports festivals . It is interesting to note that majority of Grenada’s year-round events are geared more towards maintaining and showcasing Grenada’s cultural and indigenous traditions, than for the deliberate purpose of stimulating commercial and economic activity.

In this regard, consideration of wider festival programming elements can be

undertaken, if there is interest at the national level to deliberately foster a festival tourism product based on a unique mix of cultural, traditional, heritage and music festival events as other small Caribbean countries notably Barbados, St. Lucia and Dominica have done.

While there may be concerns raised about over saturation of the regional market should Grenada pursue this option, past performance of regional festivals and festival events shows that maintaining an indigenous content, strong local appeal and quality offerings allows for a host country to gain notable economic returns from its festivals and festival events.


Grenada Carnival Landscape


Grenada showcases two carnivals annually. The more traditional Carriacou Carnival

continues to be held in February on the sister isle. In the tradition of Caribbean

Carnivals, these celebrations include calypso competitions and the parade of

costumed masqueraders through the streets of the main villages.

(The) festival format and programming for Carriacou Carnival reflects similarity in contemporary programming as found in the larger Spicemas Festival, although the more traditional festival elements for which Carriacou carnival is known, such as its Shakespeare mas, remain a feature.

Grenada Spicemas Festival is undoubtedly the stronger tourism pull factor between the two carnivals. Tourism data for the past five years shows that visitor arrivals during the month of August tend to surpass visitor arrivals for the month of February when Carriacou Carnival is held.

It is likely that the spike in tourist arrivals in February can be more attributed to the winter season stay-overs, spanning the Caribbean’s traditional winter season period of December to April.

Even where both months have experienced declines as in 2009 and 2010, the month of August has remained in the lead. Visitor arrivals for August over the six-year period can be attributed to visitors coming in for the climax of carnival festivities.

A closer look at visitor arrival statistics over the period 2006 to 2011 shows that August month compares favourably with the winter season months of any year.

August tends to record the highest number of visitor arrivals each year during that five-year period, except in 2009 and 2010. This decline may be attributed to the global recession which negatively affected spend on travel across the globe.

Notwithstanding, the consistent spike in August arrivals suggests that the Spicemas Festival has created another tourist season in the calendar for Grenada. This augurs well for Grenada as it gives opportunity for the further commercial activity within the hospitality sector beyond the traditional winter season.


Spicemas Festival Format and Programming


Grenada Spicemas Festival has been held July to August since 1987. It was moved

from the traditional pre-Lenten season to minimise direct competition from other

traditional carnivals in neighbouring islands, notably the Trinidad carnival.

Additionally, having the carnival in the month of August was considered an added

incentive to Grenadian nationals living abroad to coincide their return for reunions,

weddings, or simply family vacation with the Carnival festivities. August is regarded the peak period for the carnival.

As Grenada’s national carnival, Spicemas Festival is held at various locations across Grenada and comprises five weeks of traditional carnival events and contemporary special events.

The GCC focuses primarily on showcasing the traditions of carnival. Overall, the festival programme features a mix of music, heritage, cultural traditions and carnival arts.

Venues used are predominantly outdoor spaces, mainly the National Stadium and Victoria Park, while the calypso tents and Queen Show are staged at in-door facilities.

A growing feature of the Spicemas Festival has been the fringe event usually put on by private promoters and event managers. These events tend to focus on the more contemporary aspects of carnival festivities, particularly the music – soca and jab, and usually take the form of fetes and party cruises.

This is a common trend found in other carnivals across the region and tend to be the main attractions for visiting festival attendees. Fringe events are to be

encouraged to the extent that they add to the festival programming and can

attract new demographics to the festival.

However, it is cautioned that there must be a collaborative spirit of management and planning between the government body responsible for the national festival activities and private event managers.

It is critical that fringe events do not dominate the wider festival programming to the extent that they become the flagship features of the festival for visitors as has happened in the Trinidad carnival context. This can result in a shift in interest

away from the traditional and indigenous elements of the festival.

At the same time, it is also critical that the government institution responsible for managing and planning the national festival programming recognises it role in this regard as largely facilitative and not as a competitor in the events business.

As such, an enabling environment ought to be encouraged for both forms of festival event programming elements to thrive.


Organisation and Staffing


The Grenada Carnival Committee has been responsible for the planning, management and execution of the Spicemas Festival for a number of years.

The GCC operated as a 12-member adhoc festival committee with a number of

Sub-committees drawn from special interest groups and stakeholders, viz. pan and calypso to oversee a specific set of festival events.

All committee members serve as volunteers. As such, the GCC leans on a number of governmental agencies and organisations to execute the festival. Given its temporary nature, the GCC has often been challenged to effectively engage in long term planning, as well as marketing and promotion of the Festival.

In this regard, the Spicemas Corporation, a statutory body was formed by an Act of Parliament to “promote and organise” Spicemas Festival. The Corporation is

managed by a Board comprising the CEO of the Corporation and eight members

representing the main stakeholders of the festival.

This is considered an important strategic intervention as such an organisation can be used to solidify the festival brand and product towards the economical exploitation of Grenada’s arts and culture in a sustainable manner


Sponsors’ Impact


The Spicemas Festival receives a range of Corporate sponsorship from the local

business community. For the 2011 Festival, the GCC receive approximately

EC$923,292 worth of sponsorship ranging from cash to in-kind.

Sponsors of the Festival span a wide cross-section of corporate Grenada, including hotels, rum distillery, and auto.




*Caribbean nationals represented 32% of the attendees surveyed. Trinidad and

Tobago (20%) and Barbados (6%) residents made up a large portion of this group.


*The US residents (35%) had the greatest proportion of Spicemas attendees



*Canadian residents (12%) and UK residents (10%) had the greatest proportion that attended the SpiceMas festival.


*A lot of returning Grenadians (49%) attended the SpiceMas festival; however 50% of the persons were not returning Grenadians.




Approximately half of the attendees travelled with LIAT (44%). Caribbean

Airlines was the next highest proportion with only 12%, followed by Delta

Airlines with 11%.


Type of Accommodation


A lot of the respondents stayed at private homes (70%). Although used to

a lesser extent hotels (12%) and Apartment/ Villas (11%) were the next

popular accommodation option.



Coincidence of Visit


The majority of the attendees timed their visit to coincide with the SpiceMas



Festival Attendance


Although there was a great proportion of first time SpiceMas festival attendees (21%), many of the attendees were regular participants in the festival.

Approximately half of themattended more than four times (47%).

A closer look at the attendees showed — 59-85% of them indicated that they were satisfied to very satisfied with the factors.


*The Lighting and Sound (85%) and the Venues (84%) had the greatest amount of satisfied persons


*The Artists and Music (78%), the Food (76%) and the Shows and the Concerts

(76%) of the festival, also had a high proportion of satisfied patrons


*The Facilities (e.g. the washrooms) had the greatest amount of patrons with

mixed feelings (35%)


*A small proportion of approximately 2-7% had negative feelings towards the

identified factors of the festival


*An overwhelming number of the attendees (93%) indicated that they will

recommend the festival to friends/relatives


*A lot of the respondents (71%) indicated that they will return for the next

festival, while 5% indicated that they will not return, 21% were undecided.


*The majority (93%) indicated that they will recommend the festival to their

friends and family


Festival Activities


J’ouvert (79%), Monday Night Mas (74%), Parade of the Bands (64%) and

GCC/ Lime Soca Monarch (57%) were the events that were most attended by

the respondents.


Panorama (16%), Pageant Mas (15%), Spice Basket (11%), Eat yuh Crix (3%)

and the Concert of Winners (1%) were attended by the least amount of



Event participation


Many festival attendees (60%) indicated that they participated in some of the events that the island had to offer


*Attractions (36%) and Sightseeing (18%) had the greatest amount of participants


*Scuba diving (1%), Fishing (4%) and Hiking (5%) had the least amount of



*More persons that did not attend the festival engaged in the Sightseeing,

Attractions, Hiking, Scuba Diving and Water Sports than those that attended the



*Only those that did not attend the festival participated in Scuba Diving


*More persons that attended the festival participated in Boat trips and Heritage

Tours than those who did not attend the festival


*The greatest proportion of persons that did not attend the festival stayed for 1-7days




Respondents spent their greatest expenditure on accommodation and the Spice Mas Festival events


*The attendees to the festival daily on average spent less than those that did

not attend the festival.


*The respondents that did not attend the Festival indicated that they spent $268USD daily on average while those that did attend the festival spent daily

only $105USD.


*Those that attended the festival on average spent more on Events, phones and

creative goods (e.g. CDs)


*Those that did not attend the festival spent more on accommodation,

beverages, shopping, sight-seeing and transport



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