Our Readers' Opinions
November 22, 2016
Good ideas for Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope

Editor: A veteran media colleague believes that I should give more information on the type of development I am determined to see at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope, in preference to that which is being promoted by the Ralph Gonsalves-led regime.

With advice like that, coming from such an illustrious person, I am most happy to oblige.{{more}}

I am for an expansive and highly sophisticated, ‘entertainment, amusement and sports complex’, which incorporates Matthew Thomas’ proposal for “our own Disney World” and Oscar Allen’s ideas for the establishment of “Vincy Mas Inc”. Oscar did not mention Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope in his proposal, but I see his “Vincy Mas Inc” as a natural part of the proposed venture for that location.

In an article, which was published in all of the local newspapers in July 2013, Matthew Thomas wrote: “Mount Wynne/Peters Hope, if carefully planned, can become the Mecca of sports and entertainment in the South Eastern Caribbean – Barbados and Trinidad included.”

He sees his proposed “Vincy Disneyland” accomodating a beach picnicking area, a circus, a Carnival city (with a “Reveller’s Track”), a track and field stadium and a convention centre, which itself will also house “a museum and Hall of Fame”.

Oscar Allen’s article appeared in Searchlight of April 5, 2016, under the heading, “Carnival Inc: a regional industrial complex.”

He lamented that the potential of Carnival was not being maximized in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the rest of the region and asked: “Is it that we are waiting for a corporate agency from outside the region, like Mr Alan Stanford, to invest in our creativity in his or her industrial empire, or should we get up and get?”

Mr Allen believes Vincy Mas has more to gain through regional collaboration, starting with three countries in the Windward Islands. He wrote: “I imagine having Vincy Mas on our calendar in SVG once every three years. The other two years it will take place in either Grenada or in St Lucia. Think of the three countries sharing an integrated Carnival experience. Spice Mas – Vincy Mas – St Lucia Mas all-in-one, in each year in a different country, sold to the region and the world. The challenges of regional integration in lodging 10,000 visitors travelling by sea and air, mobilizing our hospitality, security efforts, enhancing our sense of and contact with the world of visitors and generating value that lasts and endures.” Profound indeed! A Vincentian visionary at his best.

I am appealing to persons with an interest in the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines, especially those involved in the creative industries, to read these articles.

I have taken a special interest in the articles by Matthew Thomas and Oscar Allen because they are pointing us in very realistic directions, in which we can harnesss our creative resources to create substantial wealth and develop ourselves as a people. This is long overdue. As an entrepreneur, as well as someone with a media and communication background, I am aware that creative expressions (especially those of Vincentians) are also potential lucrative business ventures and vehicles for the development of countries and their people.

There are cases in which ventures, developed from creative expressions, are now international brands. Disney World, which has been mentioned by Matthew, is an excellent example. Disney World, or Disney, as it is often called, originated from a television show, Disneyland. Its founder, Walt Disney, first made his name as an animator, but fortunately for the world he was not shortsighted as those in St Vincent and the Grenadines who now ridicule the vision of Matthew Thomas and others.

Walt Disney realized that he was not in the business of animation, but rather of entertainment and more. Today, the powerful and very valuable brand, Disney, is associated with a wide range of products, including media, theme parks, film and music.

There are other models, that we can look at in our search for the ideal option to showcase our creativity and inventiveness at the proposed venture at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope. I shall also mention, for example, Dollywood and Opreyland (which is now defunct). Opreyland was a theme park in Nashville, which originated from a legendary country music radio show, Grand Ole Oprey. I have chosen to highlight the foregoing ventures because of their music theme and my preference for music to be at the forefront (the core) of the proposed venture at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope. Nashville, which is the home of the Grand Ole Oprey, promotes itself as Music City. What about St Vincent and the Grenadines, which, for a long time, has been punching above its weight in different areas and genres of music, including gospel? Can’t this be the opportunity for the country to become a Music Capital of the world, or even “The Musicland”?

The venture which I am promoting falls into the category of the creative and cultural industries. In recent years several development agencies have been promoting these industries as among the best options for economic and other growth in developing countries. This is recognized by agencies in the Caribbean, including the Caribbean Development Bank and Caribbean Export. Only recently the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) held a forum on the creative industries, as part of Financial Literacy Month. Such a gesture cannot be taken lightly, especially by those in the creative industries in the OECS countries.

The detractors have been raising doubts about the viability of the proposed venture which I am promoting and its ability to attract visitors and the requisite investment. Apart from Oscar, Matthew also mentioned the attraction of crowds to Carnival (one of several events that will take place at the the proposed venture). He is optimistic that Carnival will be more patronized if it is part of a “Vincy Disneyland” at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope. He wrote: “Could you imagine what a Carnival Monday or Tuesday jump-up at Mount Wynne will look like, with patrons arriving by sea and land to enjoy the revelry of Carnival with sports and games, including maritime sports.”

Carnival will be only one of many attractions at the “Vincy Disneyland”. I am confident that skilled and experienced marketers (with background in development communication, media, public relations, advertising, sales, event planning and management, etc,) working on behalf of the venue, will ensure that it attracts high number of visitors yearound, including to attend international events staged here because of the reputation of” Musicland” and the availability of the proposed entertainment complex. I am advocating engaging the services of the best the world has to offer to ensure that this venture becomes a success. Some of them know me and I know some of them. I have brought at least two of them here before. It is the business in which I am!

The biggest source of revenue will not necessarily come from the visitors and their spending at the venue, even though that can be very substantial. Oscar Allen alluded to other major sources of revenue in his article when he commented: “Digital and other ITC media will archive the experience, and firm policy measures will protect copyright and intellectual property domains for the benefit of the Carnival culture workers.”

I have absolutely no doubt in my ability and that of the other promoters, of the venture preferred for Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope, to raise the requisite investment to make it a reality (cash, technical input, etc).

This is a venture that will bring more benefits to St Vincent and the Grenadines than some of those which are currently seen as monumental, including Mustique, Canouan, Buccama, Ottley Hall and certainly what is being promoted by the Ralph Gonsalves-led regime for Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope.

Sir James likes to refer to a chef on Mustique earning the equivalent of a Permanent Secretary. With this proposed venture, creative people will not only earn as much as a Permanent Secretary, but will be able to establish businesses in which their employees are paid as much and more than a Permanent Secretary.

Oscar Allen and Matthew had no knowlege of each other’s thoughts on the potential of the creative industries before they published. Both men are, however, examples of Vincentians who are descendant of slaves, but who have refused to let their vision be shaped and limited by what Massa thinks about their capability. Be it “Massa Mitchell” or “Massa Gonsalves.” Massa Day must done!

I shall end this article by referring to what I said in a previous piece in this paper in which I wrote: “Should the idea being promoted by Matthew Thomas come to fruition (and it can) St Vincent and the Grenadines will be able to maximize the use of its resources – land, sea, people (some of the most talented, innovative, creative and intelligent in the world). It will catapult our development as a people-proud, self-sufficient, confident, independent. Vincentians will no longer feel beholden and eternally grateful to political leaders, such as Sir James Mitchell and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, for providing us with ‘crumbs’.”

Bernard Joseph