All Aboard… or Are They?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Toni Ni­cholas

If there is one thing West In­di­ans love just as much as car­ni­val and fet­ing (on land that is), it’s a good party on a boat ride. Hey, there is even a Soca song or two writ­ten or in­spired by th­ese fan­tas­tic voy­ages. Tony Prescott’s “All Aboard” and Wayne Ro­driguez’s “Foot­steps” come to mind. And just as we have ex­ported our West In­dian cul­ture to the North Amer­i­can di­as­pora, so too th­ese themed boat rides are now much sought af­ter dur­ing Labour Day in New York, Miami Car­ni­val and Carib­ana in Toronto. Even the names of some of the ves­sels have be­come leg­endary – the Jolly Roger and Bajan Queen in Bar­ba­dos, Har­bour Mas­ter and Trea­sure Queen in Trinidad, Car­ni­val, Wave Rid­ers and now the de­funct Flamingo of Saint Lu­cia.

And while th­ese events have be­come quite lu­cra­tive for pro­mot­ers and per­sons seek­ing to hold a fund rais­ing event and are very popular with party-lovers, they have not prof­ited the en­ter­tain­ers who are some­times hired - at least not as much as they could or should. This is be­cause the or­ga­niz­ers and pro­mot­ers in­volved have not been tak­ing out the nec­es­sary li­cense from ECCO.

The sim­ple rule of thumb is that any­where that mu­sic is be­ing played for public con­sump­tion, be it bar, restau­rant, night­club, shop­ping mall or boat ride, a mu­sic li­cense is re­quired. And, the en­tity re­spon­si­ble for this is ECCO.

Lately the mem­bers of the Eastern Caribbean Col­lec­tions Or­ga­ni­za­tions (ECCO) have been pres­sur­ing the en­tity to en­force such mu­sic li­censes in­clud­ing those re­quired by pro­mot­ers of boat ride events.

“What we will en­deav­our to do in the com­ing weeks is to en­sure that all of th­ese boat rides are prop­erly li­censed by the pro­mot­ers of th­ese events. We will also dia­logue with the boat own­ers to as­sist us by en­sur­ing when they rent out their ves­sels for such events, that the pro­mot­ers have in­deed se­cured their ECCO li­cense,” Gen­eral Manager of ECCO Steve Eti­enne says. “In essence, if the boat own­ers do not as­cer­tain that th­ese li­censes are in or­der, then we can in fact hold them li­able. We will also be work­ing closely with the po­lice and NEMO to en­sure com­pli­ance with the Mass Crowd guide­lines which call for cer­tain guide­lines to be fol­lowed in­clud­ing the re­quire­ment for an ECCO li­cense,” Eti­enne adds.

At a cost of any­where be­tween EC$50-100 to pa­trons/ rev­el­ers, it is av­er­aged that there are over one hun­dred boat rides an­nu­ally with a num­ber of th­ese tak­ing place on Sun­days or dur­ing long hol­i­day week­ends for ex­am­ple Easter time, Saint Lu­cia Jazz Fes­ti­val and Car­ni­val. The ECCO tar­iff for a li­cense to th­ese events is 5% of the ticket price or a min­i­mum rate of EC$345. The 5% is dis­counted by 10% for early pay­ment and an ad­di­tional 30% if the event is all-in­clu­sive.

Ac­cord­ing to the head of COSCAP in Bar­ba­dos, Erica Smith, her or­ga­ni­za­tion has also faced a num­ber of chal­lenges in the li­cens­ing of ‘party cruises’ par­tic­u­larly with the shift from land-based venues by many pro­mot­ers to th­ese ves­sels which are dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor. “How­ever, we have been en­gag­ing in dis­cus­sions with the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers and are presently re­view­ing our tar­iffs in or­der to of­fer one that re­flects the var­i­ous sizes and scope of ac­tiv­i­ties on the mul­ti­tude of ves­sels with ca­pac­i­ties rang­ing from 10 to 500 per­sons, a cou­ple trips a week to a cou­ple a day, back­ground and/ or fea­tured mu­sic use,” she says. “Also we will en­deavor to en­sure that we do not dis­crim­i­nate land-based venues com­pared with sea ves­sels,” she added.

“Ul­ti­mately, it is the value of mu­sic to th­ese busi­ness ven­tures which must be recog­nised and re­spected. Af­ter all, in most cases, no mu­sic means no busi­ness,” Erica says.

Boat rides are fast be­com­ing a ma­jor source of en­ter­tain­ment in sev­eral Caribbean is­lands.

(Photo: Ba­jan­tube)

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