Minister wants festivals to attract more visitors

TRELAWNY, Jamaica: Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says his ministry will be looking at ways to use events such as the recent Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival to draw visitors and increase tourism to the country during weak travel periods.

“One of the things we are going to have to focus on and look at seriously is how we are going to use events more effectively to fill the weaker areas in our tourism calendar…especially during September, October and November periods.

“We are going to look at how we can use some events to build and encourage travel during these slow times, and to show off some of the tremendous products we have in our country,” he said.

The three-day festival was held from January 26 to 28 at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium and drew in record crowds. Dr. McNeill said he was satisfied that it had achieved its objective of marketing Jamaica and boosting domestic tourism.

“Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival has done what it was supposed to do. In fact, it has done two things, because while it is great for marketing Jamaica outside as a festival destination, it really has boosted our domestic tourism,” he said. “Jamaicans from across the far reaches of the island converged in Montego Bay and Trelawny, with hotel rooms booked out.”

McNeill noted that the performances were exceptional, especially that of international recording artist, Celine Dion, and he applauded the organizers for reserving a night for reggae music.

“Given the 50th anniversary of our independence, I think that it was very fitting to have a night dedicated to Jamaican music. This night followed the history of Jamaican music and was well appreciated and so well produced and well received,” he said.

Damion Crawford, State Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, said that he was also pleased that the organizers set aside a night for reggae music, which has impacted the world for more than 50 years.

“We are happy for these events and we want more of them to be held. We are looking forward to more reggae events as well, because reggae is that gift that we have given to the world,” Crawford said. “I would want our youth to realize that, as a country, Jamaica is not only 50 years, but 50 not out. We are not out of hope, we are not out of aspirations, we are not out of belief that we can be a better country.”

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