Carnival, Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica 60 enabling growth
Tourism minister projects 300,000 visitor arrivals for end of month
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says since the start of the summer, Jamaica’s entertainment sector has been bolstering the tourism industry and that record-breaking arrivals are expected.
“This month of July, we are going to break our record of tourist arrivals to the island. Last month [June] we did better than June 2019 and July has been angling in that direction and even greater than July 2019,” the tourism minister told The Gleaner.
Bartlett added, “With the combination of carnival, Reggae Sumfest and Jamaica 60, July is definitely going to be a 300,000 month. It is a wonderful feeling to see entertainment tourism back.”
The numbers of tourist arrivals in July 2019 was recorded at 270,462. It dropped tremendously in 2020 as Jamaica’s borders were closed for the months of April and May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reopened in June. The arrivals in July 2020 were 41,491 and for July 2021 the arrivals were recorded at 183,676. Having attended Reggae Sumfest over the weekend, Bartlett saw that “both visitors and locals alike are re-embracing the Jamaican reggae genre and from my observation of the audience, to come to the Mecca – the home of reggae – is a tradition the world needs to be exposed to and that we must use to make more persons come to our shores.”
He shared that achieving record-breaking arrivals shows that the entertainment sector is enabling growth. Bartlett offered that Reggae Sumfest “needs now to have an infrastructure that will enable not only growth but expansion”.
“The show was fantastic; it gave a wonderful meaning and feeling. Therefore, I think the time is right for an important conversation between the private sector and ourselves in terms of a coalition of interest to bring a capacity to break the barrier of ordinary festivals into mega-festivals,” he continued.
JUST THE BEGINNING
Joe Bogdanovich, chief executive officer of Downsound Entertainment, owners of the Reggae Sumfest brand, has hinted at the possibility of expansion – first with the venue. In May, it was announced that Bogdanovich won the bid for the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex and he has shared an interest to make the venue a premier location for events, as the home of Reggae Sumfest.
“We’re just beginning. What everybody observed over the weekend was just the beginning. The festival venue is already bigger than it was in 2015 and the thing is, people may not even see it but they will definitely feel it,” he explained.
He further explained that expansion is inevitable and plans to make the festival bigger are already under way.
“We have the beach side of the Catherine Hall venue too, which we can use for another stage. What I loved about Friday and Saturday night was that we were celebrating life, growth and being together. Understanding that anything can happen, meaning this may be a person’s last time attending a Reggae Sumfest, just means we must respect life and with that reggae and dancehall music and our culture here,” Bogdanovich said.