The month of July is turning out to be very hot, temperature wise, and visitors to Jamaica and residents alike, are all seeking ways and means to cool down their bodies and spirits.
With Meteorologists predicting a hotter than usual summer for this year, it poses the ideal situation for persons to head to the outdoors to find ways and means to entertain themselves while at the same time trying to keep cool. It is therefore no surprise that this is the time of year when the islands of the Caribbean come alive with numerous parties and concerts taking place all around.
Not to be outdone, Jamaica, in true Caribbean spirit, has its fair share of fitting events for the season, most renown of which is Reggae Sumfest, dubbed “The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth”.
The construction of stalls for the 2010 staging of Reggae Sumfest taking place at the Catherine Hall Entertainment complex in Montego Bay.
Plans are far advanced for the 18th staging of this event, which is slated to take place over four days, July 17, 22, 23 and 24, at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay.
According to Chairman of the production company, Summerfest Productions, Robert Russell, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) estimates an expected 6,000 visitors to the island to participate in this year’s event. This number of visitors, coupled with thousands of Jamaicans also expected to come to the event, provide the groundwork for a fantastic Reggae SUMFEST 2010 over the four-day period.
“I think this is going to be the salvation for the summer for Jamaica and for tourism”, Mr. Russell stated.
Making mention of some of the big acts billed for this year, he outlined the high level of support manifesting itself towards the show, also the economic and other benefits expected to flow from the music festival to Jamaica in general and the Montego Bay economy in particular.
“I think the response for this year has been overwhelming, the fact that we were able to contract Chris Brown and Usher, has made a really big difference to our marketplace and our clientele,” he said.
“I know for sure that overseas the response has been great, we have been getting a lot of reservations now for the hotels, and the airlines are reporting a lot of reservations for airline tickets to come in, and also a lot of people from Kingston and the surrounding areas are showing great interest in the show this year,” he stated.
Mr. Russell pointed out that producing the show costs over $100 million, and praised corporate Jamaica for its sponsorship. But how does the city of Montego Bay benefit from the staging of a show of this magnitude within its environs?
“Direct and indirect employment (to produce the show) is close to 1,000 people, and that does not include security and production and all those categories. We have quite a big contingent of security and production personnel, artistes, musicians and liaison personnel among others,” he stated.
Additionally, he pointed to the expected expenditure from visitors, stating that a minimum average of about US$1,500 per person will be spent, amounting to approximately US$9 million or about J$1 billion.
“So the spin-off is really great and everybody benefits from it,” he stated.
Checks by JIS News with a number of craft vendors and taxi drivers across the city revealed an eagerness for the show, all stating that during that period there is always an increase in income, during what would normally be a down period.
“Reggae Sumfest is like a saviour in the summer months, I am sure to make a money I can put aside to send my children to school come September,” taxi driver Rupert Brown stated.
Craft vendor Hilda Chambers, expressing the sentiments of most in her line of business, stated that “usually there are a lot of tourists visiting, and Jamaicans who live abroad come home for the show; so if it is even for the week before, the week of the show and the week after, things usually look up, you can make a money”.
With the show launched overseas, in Kingston and the latest being in Montego Bay, Russell highlighted the level of positive media support the event is getting, which indirectly also highlights Jamaica and Montego Bay in a positive way.
“This is the event that will drive the summer. We are coming out of a state of emergency, and there was a lot of skepticism as to whether we were going to have the show or not, and the mere fact that we have been able to contract Usher and Chris Brown has really said to the rest of the world, Jamaica is open for business”, he stated.