Rebel Salute continues to attract international attention - Global fans seek out reggae's mecca
Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Reggae artiste Queen Ifrica says the 22-year-old reggae lifestyle festival, Rebel Salute, will continue to pull thousands of tourists to the island annually. According to the conscious singer, tourists want to experience authentic reggae music from the place of its origin, and Rebel Salute provides that opportunity.
Queen Ifrica, in a telephone interview with The Sunday Gleaner, said she has seen tourists attend the event from vast geographic locations.
"I have seen people from Dubai, Israel, Czech Republic ... people from some far places, and I think that it's the appetite that they have for reggae music, because as artistes, we get to travel to those places and perform our music," she said.
The artiste believes if more effort is directed to the development of the creative industries, Jamaica will seldom worry about tourists flocking its shores.
"These music fans overseas see Jamaica as the mecca for reggae music. They want to come to the place where Bob Marley is from. Rebel Salute is an event for two days and tourists enjoy the fact that they can come to an event and spend two nights and hear some real authentic Jamaican music and be exposed to some different cuisine," she said.
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, during his address at the recent launch of Rebel Salute, also echoed similar sentiments to that of Queen Ifrica. He, however, advised Jamaicans to keep all indigenous genres alive in order to validate the country as the true mecca of Jamaican music.
"Instead of going to Las Vegas for shows, I want people to come to Jamaica for Jamaican music ... but we have to have our own space in Jamaica for ska, rocksteady, mento, reggae and dancehall for us to be a mecca to the world," he said.
Mr Patterson says 34 per cent of the patrons who attended Rebel Salute in 2013 visited the island specifically for Rebel Salute. He also said some of these very tourists, 56 of them, decided to stay in the island and visit other attractions after the festival. The figures he revealed were garnered from a recent research carried out by the Jamaica Tourist Board.
"So we have a good thing and we must build on it, and that is why we should develop the creative industries," he said.
Mr Patterson also commended United States President Barack Obama for re-establishing ties with Cuba for the first time since 1960. The former prime minister says Jamaica and Cuba should now be looking at the possibility of cultural exchange instead of a rivalry.
"In rejoicing at the very bold, courageous and long-overdue decision that was taken by President Obama to establish normal links with Cuba, I don't see it as a threat to tourism. I see the possibility of linkages, so that when people come from far destinations, they can go to several places in the region. We should be having festivals where Jamaican musicians are going to Cuba, and Cuban musicians are coming to Jamaica. We have to stop fighting each other and making everything into a competition and start providing quality entertainment that both the visitors and the Jamaican people can enjoy," Mr Patterson said.