Tourists flock Jamaica for Sumfest, says White
Calling Reggae Sumfest the epitome of Brand Jamaica, Director of Tourism Donovon White says the annual music festival is now one of the main pull factors bringing visitors to Jamaica.
Addressing a roomful of industry players and media personalities at the Iberostar Suites, Montego Bay, leg of the launch of Reggae Sumfest yesterday, White said the event can now easily be compared to "anything we have out there on the world stage".
"The gains we have seen from staging an event of this magnitude have been phenomenal," White said.
"Reggae Sumfest is now more than just your traditional show. It represents Jamaica and the Jamaican brand. It is a grand showcase of our music, our great tradition, our people and some of the greatest set of musicians in the world today."
White, however, said that despite the growth of Sumfest, more has to be done to get Jamaica to enjoy more of the benefits of reggae, "which is on full display in venues across the world".
"My feeling is that when you see a show in, say, places like Germany that pulls in 50,000-plus patrons for four consecutive nights ... to watch a reggae festival without one single Jamaican act on it ... it makes you ask the question ... where is our music."
White said that while there is no ready answer to address the concern, "we have to start the conversation as to who is managing our music ... . How do we get some benefits from what is our own authentic music?"
"There is a serious ownership structure in the music that belongs to Jamaica," he further explained. "We have seen reggae evolve from mento, from ska, into rocksteady, into dancehall. This is our music and our legacy. We have to be more involved on the business side.
"If that music is being reproduced in other parts of the world, what is our economic benefit? How do Jamaica and our musicians benefit from that?"
White said that while it's flattering that reggae is being embraced globally "like never before", Jamaican artistes have to better position themselves to get into the mainstream where they can be an integral part of the "lucrative market that is out there".
"We are now past the flattery aspect of things," he added. "We are now into trying to figure out how we can benefit from what is authentically ours."
White also said that the Jamaican artistes have a very important role to play when they go on shows overseas, adding that "they are also an important part of brand Jamaica".
"Our musicians are our ambassadors ... . We must never forget that," he added. "When they go out there on the world stage, they are representing Jamaica. They should also understand that music is a very powerful forum that they can use to spread a positive message ... something that Sumfest has been doing for the past 25 years."
The festival, which will be staged in the tourism capital from July 15 to 22, will see performances on the main nights from the likes of Beres Hammond, Damion 'Junior Gong' Marley, Capleton, Baby Cham, Spice, Popcaan and Tommy Lee.
The reggae festival kicks off with a beach party tagged Colourfest at Tropical Bliss. The event culminates at Catherine Hall Complex on Friday, July 20, and Saturday July 21st, climaxing with the Sumfest Morning Medz Tailgate at the Dump Up Beach.