Kingsley Cooper, Contributor
As Jamaica seeks to move from its current state of International Monetary Fund-triggered austerity to sustained, meaningful, growth, Jamaicans can take a measure of comfort from the fact that its entertainment industry, working in tandem with tourism, is now positioned to make our country one of the key entertainment capitals of the world.
The positioning comes through a series of initiatives from Jamaica's Entertainment Advisory Board.
The plan, which has already been approved by entertainment and tourism authorities, will see a slew of entertainment, cultural and other creative projects and events executed across the length and breadth of Jamaica on a year-round basis.
The game-changing initiative is expected to drive employment, industry development and the establishment of new hotels, as well as the provision of related services. It will have the capability of sharply increasing the number of stopover visitors, not just for general leisure, but specifically for these entertainment and cultural experiences.
The plan will also have a catalystic effect on the growth of several other industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, finance and investment, construction and infrastructural development.
Preliminary work has already commenced on the global marketing of the first of the planks on which the programme is being built.
Ninety Days of Summer and Reggae Month, It's Kingston for February, which come on stream in 2014, are about to be rolled out.
These will be followed by an entertainment project which will provide weekly opportunities for tourists to experience the best of Jamaica's music and culture in resort areas such as Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, as well as Kingston.
Kingston, already the Caribbean's entertainment capital, is targeted to be the city that best reflects Jamaica's cultural and creative strengths. Already boasting several calendar events, cultural attractions, museums, nightclubs, restaurants, bars and other similar facilities, Kingston has the potential to grow significantly.
This growth will no doubt be supported by the planned construction of at least three new hotels in the city, as well as the restoration of the Wyndham's room stock to the market.
Further events are now being planned for the currently slow fall period, which could transform tourism in Jamaica in the same way that Reggae Sunsplash forever changed the summertime experience in the island.
Jamaica's Entertainment Advisory Board has already debated and approved these initiatives and recommended same to Government. Most of these recommendations have been accepted. Now, our collective challenge is to maintain focus, organise, manage and motivate.
We also need to strengthen private sector investments, establish new private-public sector partnerships, and most of all, ensure that there is sufficient funding in place, in both the public and private sphere, to make these plans work.
Entertainment is a very attractive option for Jamaica, being an industry which requires creativity at its core, something we have here in abundance.
Also, as entry levels are low, many Jamaicans, from all walks of life, have an opportunity to participate in its benefits. Many entertainment projects are not capital intensive and there is a wealth of experience and expertise available locally for execution.
It is, therefore, not surprising that over the last 20 years, entertainment has grown exponentially. Its potential for further growth is limitless. Over these years, creative businesses have gained much more understanding and respect as legitimate establishments.
Entertainment is also in our DNA as a people. We, therefore, have the capacity to use this natural resource to help transform our economic circumstances. And we should.
Kingsley Cooper is an attorney-at-law. He is also chairman of Jamaica's Entertainment Advisory Board and executive chairman of Pulse Investments Ltd.