Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), shares a moment with Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Downsound Records and Producer of Reggae Sumfest, Joe Bogdanovich, at last year’s event in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay.
Photo: Garwin Davis

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is welcoming the partnership between Reggae Sumfest organisers and social media giants Facebook and Instagram for the staging of this year’s summer musical festival.

The virtual event, from July 20 to 25, will include a slate of activities in conjunction with the Facebook/Instagram team, highlighted by the live-artists showcase on the social media platforms on July 24 and 25, which could potentially reach hundreds of millions in viewership.

Minister Bartlett tells JIS News that Jamaica’s tourism is set to receive some massive publicity from the showcase of the island’s rich musical heritage, which could assist the sector’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) fallout.

He notes that Reggae Sumfest is one of the biggest reggae festivals in the world and a must-see calendar event for many travellers.

He says that with COVID-19 impacting the staging of major entertainment events this year, “it is a brilliant move by the organisers in forging this groundbreaking partnership with two of the biggest social media platforms on the planet.

“Undoubtedly, this partnership will be a boon not only for the Reggae Sumfest brand but will provide a potential market of some 356 million for Jamaica as well as the entertainers who will be performing,” Minister Bartlett says.

Reggae superstar Beenie Man performs at Reggae Sumfest.​


“There is no actual platform that could replicate these numbers. In addition, Jamaica will be on show for the duration of this event.

“It will provide an enormous stage from which to share the rich culture and exquisite beauty and allure of our island to millions of potential visitors, especially now when we want to get the message out of the post-COVID rebirth of our tourism industry,” he notes.

The Ministry of Tourism’s marketing arm, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), is one of the main sponsors of Reggae Sumfest.

Minister Bartlett says that the association goes back many years and is one that has been very fruitful and “has served [us] well”.

For his part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Downsound Entertainment, producers of Reggae Sumfest, Joe Bogdanovich, tells JIS News that “it is really mind-boggling” to think of the kind of visibility Jamaica and the Sumfest brand will receive from the staging of the virtual event.

“This is indeed both historic and unprecedented and will take our music to levels never seen before. Our entertainers have never had this kind of platform and outreach before. I mean this is huge; this is massive,” he says.

Mr. Bogdanovich, in explaining the genesis of the partnership, says with the cancellation of major entertainment activities due to physical distancing measures, the Reggae Sumfest team had been considering a range of ideas “as we are committed to keeping Reggae Sumfest visible and in the hearts and minds of reggae music fans across the globe”.

He says it was during a brainstorming session that he recalled a link he had made with representatives of Facebook and Instagram at the launch of Reggae Sumfest 2019 in New York, and they had expressed an interest in exploring some possibilities with the Sumfest team.

“They found Reggae Sumfest interesting and we continued throughout the year to work with them to get our accounts verified and so on. We had planned to do the panel discussion with them at the time of our expected 2020 New York launch, but this did not materialise [due to COVID],” he notes.

He says that during follow-up discussions, the Facebook/Instagram team offered the option of streaming live a virtual show on the social media platforms.

Mr. Bogdanovich points out that the result of those talks is a partnership to host a virtual celebration of Reggae Sumfest that will potentially reach millions of viewers.

“This partnership with Facebook and Instagram will not only provide a taste of Reggae Sumfest in 2020, it will serve to bring an even broader and larger audience together to embrace the music and the culture of Jamaica,” Mr. Bogdanovich tells JIS News.

A large section of the crowd at Reggae Sumfest 2019.


He says that the Ministry of Tourism immediately came on board. “The Ministry has supported Reggae Sumfest since its inception and immediately saw the benefits of the partnership with Facebook and Instagram,” he notes.

“In fact, the JTB has come on board as our presenting sponsor. The JTB/Reggae Sumfest partnership is ideally suited to our joint commitment to celebrate and showcase Jamaica as the heartbeat of the world,” he adds.

The Downsound CEO says the organisers see the staging of the virtual show as a “give back” to fans and, as such, have no plans for a cover charge, adding that “we will share the access information as soon as all is arranged”.

Mr. Bogdanovich tells JIS News that he is “very proud of the Sumfest team, which demonstrated creativity and initiative in bringing this event about”.

“If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated that, in order to remain relevant, we must be able to meet challenges head-on and we must rethink our models,” he notes.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bogdanovich tells JIS News that “we are all set for Reggae Sumfest 2021. All artistes that were booked for the cancelled 2020 show are now committed for 2021”.

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