Bartlett, Davis upbeat about Reggae Sumfest 2019
Ahead of this year’s staging of Reggae Sumfest 2019 in Montego Bay, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is optimistic that the tourism industry will reap big rewards from the anticipated turnout to the annual musical extravaganza.
“Generally speaking, the tourism industry is well prepared for Sumfest, and I expect good things from Sumfest this year even though I don’t have the exact figures, such as how many rooms have been assigned for it,” Bartlett said in an interview with The Gleaner.
“I think that we really enjoy high occupancies (in the hotels and villas) now.
“I think some people are being challenged to find rooms in some quarters, but I do believe that the organisers have already made their arrangements with the hotels, and, no doubt, have settled on room assignments.
He noted that the industry is doing very well, as there is evidence of growth by nearly 11 per cent for 2019.
“And Montego Bay is ‘hot,’ so I expect good things from Sumfest,” he said.
Bartlett’s hopeful forecast strengthens an earlier observation by Sumfest organiser Joe Bogdanovich that the seating demand has been greater than it was during last year’s staging.
“Hotels in the Montego Bay area usually see an increase in bookings around the period the show is being held, but this year, I know for sure the demand has been greater.
“I am not surprised some people can’t get hotel rooms right now because based on the ticket sales, the demand for the show this year has been overwhelming,” Bogdanovich said in May.
Meanwhile, Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis is predicting that Reggae Sumfest 2019 will be a success and a major financial boost for the local business community, albeit it being held during the ongoing state of public emergency in St James.
“We’re looking at the greater benefits that will affect the city of Montego Bay from Sumfest, in terms of an uptake in business and overall activities to benefit hoteliers, restaurants, bar owners, and vendors. There’s a lot of employment as well since during that time, there are a lot of labourers being employed,” Davis said.
When asked how the State of Emergency (SOE) stipulations might affect Sumfest, particularly the closing time of midnight for clubs and restaurants, Davis suggested that the arrangements might be the same as when the event was held under last year’s SOE.
“Last year, what was done by an act of Parliament was that a particular area was designated as an area that wasn’t under the SOE for the duration of Reggae Sumfest. That’s what I imagine would be done this year, but that gazette has not yet been published, and I would have to wait until I see that gazette before I can comment on that matter,” said Davis.
Over 1.4 million patrons are expected to attend Reggae Sumfest 2019 to see headline musical acts such as Beres Hammond, Buju Banton and Chronixx. Up-and-coming dancehall sensation Shauna Controlla, who will make her Sumfest debut this year, is also expected to be among the performers.