Sun | Jan 20, 2019

5,000 revellers for Road March

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Xaymaca International Road March 2017.
Xaymaca International Road March 2017.
Bacchanal Jamaica Road March.

When the 2018 carnival season of fetes, concerts, 'socacizing', J'ouvert, and costume choice peaks with the Road March next month, it is expected that more than 5,000 costumed revellers will hit the streets of Kingston.

That would continue a two-year growth trend. as Kamal Bankay of the National Carnival Stakeholders Committee told The Gleaner that in 2016, there were more than 2,000 costumed marchers, and about 4,000 last year.

This year's projection holds even without the participation of Jamaica Carnival, which recently announced that it will not be putting on a road march this year after returning last year to break a hiatus.

The number of costumed participants is not the only one Bankay is keeping an eye on as growing the "grand spectacle" is not an end in itself.

"In 2017, we had a 19,000-person increase in visitor arrivals," he said. Although the figures were not isolated to determine a definite correlation with carnival in Jamaica, Bankay says that it was the only event of that magnitude on the Jamaican entertainment calendar at that time.

"It was a significant growth," Bankay said of the nine-per cent visitor surge during the period.

Although carnival in Jamaica is pushing the numbers, there remains a gap to close on longer-established celebrations in places like Trinidad and Tobago. Bankay is positive about further growth, his confidence resting, among other elements, on Brand Jamaica ("the biggest brand name by far"), the quality of the road march spectacle, and an improved road network ("Kingston and Ocho Rios are very close now.").

"If we put the right mix together, people are going to be very excited to come. We can see the growth already," Bankay said.

There is a new element to the road march this year as a float parade will take place. And, if Bankay has his wish, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission will participate in the march at some point.

Carnival in Jamaica is part of a thrust to market a broad array of events in the country through a film-reel composite of events across the island as diverse as Reggae Sumfest and the Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships.

"We will put it all together in a documentary. We will show the world what entertainment in Jamaica is like and show 10 different types of entertainment," Bankay said.