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Money well spent - JCDC head touts positive spin-off from Independence celebrations

Published:Wednesday | August 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Orville Hill (centre), interim executive director of Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, speaks with Robert Scott (right), president of the Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston, and past president, Robin Levy, during a luncheon meeting at The Four Seasons Hotel yesterday.

Money well spent was how the Interim Executive Director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Orville Hill, described the just-concluded Independence Grand Gala celebrations on Monday night at the National Stadium.

Approximately $62 million was spent on the celebrations inclusive of transportation for the scores of children from across the country, rehearsals, and the grand event itself.

Hill said that while the money is seen as a significant cost, it carries with it an even more powerful cultural and economic value that serves as a major attraction for thousands of visitors who come to Jamaica at this particular time to engage in the celebrations and its activities.

"I can't give specific details, but I would estimate that at least 25 per cent of the people inside the National Stadium on Monday night were visitors - not necessarily overseas-based Jamaicans, but foreigners, who want to experience Jamaica in a different way," said Hill.

Speaking at a luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in St Andrew yesterday, Hill noted that the spin-off effects and other commercial value derived from the gala represent a significant return on investment of nearly 200 per cent.

"Some people may say it's a lot of money for just one event, but I can tell you that its impact transcends our shores," reasoned Hill. "Because a sizable number of people worldwide would have viewed the gala celebrations via live stream, it could be rightfully assumed that the country could see more tourists coming to the island, having sampled our culture because of the gala."

He also disclosed that the sum spent on the gala amounted to roughly the same amount spent last year in spite of inflation.

"When compared to last year, it is certainly not more. In fact, we had to do more this year with roughly the same budget as the last, and I believe it was a job well done," he said.