Monday, 23 June 2014



There is nothing that BET can do for the St Lucia Tourist Board that it cannot do for itself. Except perhaps provide year round media coverage in major tourism markets - which BET is not willing to do anymore.
So why the hell is the Tourist Board still paying BET millions to do what Tourist Board has proven it can do for itself?

From the time BET Jazz was changed to Centric and St Lucia Jazz was without year round international media exposure, the Jazz Festival has been dead in the water.

The St Lucia Tourist Board has gotten new, smaller media partners from North America and Europe proposing non-exclusive deals, but somehow, they have not been interested. What they have been interested in however is making up with BET, at a cost of millions of dollars with no supporting media ccoverage.

THE FLOGG now has confirmed that the St Lucia Tourist Board knew they were paying too much for jazz artists booked through Paxton Baker and BET for years before breaking off their deal with BET in the aftermath of Robert Johnson’s sale of the company and the subsequent shake up that threw St Lucia Jazz Festival under the bus.

They knew, for more than a decade, that Paxton Baker and BET were charging 50-300% more per artist than what the artistes usually ask for. Yet, after spending three years booking artistes AT A MUCH CHEAPER RATE without BET’s help, the St Lucia Tourist Board returned to their vomit and started booking artistes through BET, at exorbitant rates once again.

The result: Last year, St Lucia paid nearly half a million dollars for Akon when it really cost less than a quarter million to book him. This year, just to top themselves, the Tourist Board paid BET hundreds of thousands of US dollars to book Maxwell, who you can get to play just about any gig you want for less than 60 grand. Over the two decades of St Lucia Jazz, overpaying for jazz artistes has amounted to millions a year and tens of millions in the big picture.

“This is not correct,” Louis Lewis has said and will say again, on the matter of knowingly paying BET way more money to book artists than the artists are worth. “The figures stated are categorically un-factual.”

So what, oh great purveyor of transparency and honesty in business who presides over the overwhelming marketing success that is the tourism industry, what are the real figures?

“We can’t disclose contractual details,” Lewis said last year and no doubt will say again when asked why Tourist Board continues to blow away hard earned St Lucian cash on Paxton Baker and the rest of the millionaires on the board of vice presidents or whatever.

The total lack of transparency in Louis Lewis and Matthew Beaubrun’s Tourist Board is completely consistent with the behavior of most Tourist Boards of the past. They ask for more money for marketing, they spend most of the money getting no results and then they make excuses about the downturn in the world economy, but it’s alright because cruise ship passenger arrivals (which are worth about 1 cent each to the local economy) were up by some single digit percentage.

The only moment when Tourist Board experienced a moment of sanity was in the three years when there was no BET. Apart from that, the deliberate over spending on artistes has been the norm and will continue to be the norm.

Don’t both asking Louis Lewis or Tracy Warner-Arnold for truthful answers, because they are masters of the stat-corp mafia code, which explicitly says that no manager or director of a St Lucian statutory corporation has to answer to anyone. Either keep them in place or fire them. Either way, there is no accountability.

Tourist Board will NOT be defending this allegation with any facts that prove they are not paying BET way more than the artists are worth. Tourist Board will not be defending itself by showing great results, great prospects and new and innovative ideas for bigging up St Lucian tourism.

Tourist Board will not be admitting that perhaps Paxton Baker and BET are a total waste of time and money now that they can’t get us on American television anymore.

They will be trying to do what they did with HOT COUTURE. They will try to keep their heads down so the press doesn’t notice when they write oversized cheques for services that, in the short, mid and long term, really achieve nothing substantial, much less spectacular.

They will hold some press conference where they deliver some pretty charts and some boring charts, neither of which address the numbers that matter. And then, when no one challenges them to prove how much they paid BET for foreign jazz artistes, they will fail the test of transparency again.

Now that I have accused them most directly, I think the defense should be given a moment for comment.

Your move, Louis Lewis. Deny it (you will). Confirm it (you won’t). Confuse it (you must). Do whatever you want. Whatever you do, I’m ready for you, brother.

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