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Let’s celebrate carnival’s economic success

SUCCESS: Notting Hill Carnival

THE NOTTING Hill Carnival that began in the mid-1960s had its roots in the desire of local people to use their Caribbean heritage to bring people together following serious racial tensions in the area.

Over half a century later, the event has evolved from a community-based response to blatant racism and is now a celebrated homage to Caribbean culture, a dazzling showcase of music, costumes, food and history.

What you don’t hear much about, however, is the amount of money the two-day street party has raised for the London economy.

An estimated £93 million flows through the capital dur- ing the August Bank Holiday when the event is held.
Indeed, according to David Weaver, who in 2004 conducted the research that uncovered this figure, the amount of money that the Carnival generates has probably risen significantly in the last few years.

So it is not only an event that should be valued for the huge contribution it makes to cultural life in the UK.
Europe’s biggest street party provides an annual boost to businesses, from the hotels – which cater for the extra people visiting from around the world – to the food stalls which serve up delicious Caribbean cuisine and the range of entrepreneurs selling all manner of merchandise across the weekend.

For many small business owners it is the highlight of their financial year. Sadly, not everyone agrees about the positive role that the carnival plays.

In recent years, the event’s organisers have had to fight efforts to move it to Hyde Park. But despite this, the Notting Hill Carnival has survived and continues to thrive.

As Weaver says, it’s important that the government and the Mayor of London’s office promote the economic benefits of this annual event.

Despite naysayers claiming that the Notting Hill Carnival is unsafe, attracting a yearly wave of street crime, the reality is far different.

What started as a way of bringing people together through Caribbean culture is now a key part of London’s economy.

That is something that needs to be more widely recognised.

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