Important lessons from the Buju Banton concert

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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First , our congratulations to the organisers of the Buju Banton 'Long Walk to Freedom' concert staged last Saturday night at the National Stadium in St Andrew. From all reports, the event started bang on time and, outside of a few glitches, ran smoothly.

That certainly is a sharp departure from the usual indiscipline demonstrated by the organisers of music concerts in the past. Failing to start events at the advertised time, long band changes, and inability to manage performance set times smack of a lack of respect for patrons and sponsors.

The late Mr Byron Lee stood out as an example that Jamaicans do have the ability to run entertainment events on time. Others now in the business would do well to copy the standards set by him and the individuals who managed the Buju Banton show.

We make that observation and recommendation on the basis that in the aftermath of the Buju Banton concert experience, there has been some amount of talk about Jamaica hosting more big music events.

That, certainly is not foreign territory to this country as we have staged some really big events here in the past. So the expertise exists. What is needed now is for us to harness that expertise to greater advantage as we compile a calendar to ensure that the events are staged with enough time apart to prevent patron fatigue.

If we can get that done, Jamaica could really be marketed as the entertainment capital of the Caribbean and the economic impact of that would be, dare we say phenomenal.

Just look at the March visitor arrival numbers released by the Ministry of Tourism on Monday and you can appreciate the point we are making.

According to the ministry, preliminary figures indicate that 2,434 foreign nationals arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston last Friday ahead of the Buju Banton concert.

While the ministry did not say how many of those travellers actually came for the concert, we would not be surprised to learn that the majority were indeed here for the show.

Their presence here would have resulted in impressive hotel occupancy, increased sales at restaurants and gift shops, and give a boost to transportation services.

In fact, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett told us that in addition to the Buju Banton concert, the island benefited tremendously from the staging of mega culinary and entertainment events this month, among them the second annual Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, and the inaugural Jamaica Rum Festival.

Total visitor arrivals for the period March 1-17, we are told, amounted to 148,052, an increase of 24.8 per cent over the 118,597 recorded for the same period last year.

We reiterate that while it cannot be definitively stated that all those visitors were here for the events, we cannot rule out the possibility of the festivals' pull factor.

Jamaica's food, culture, music and the warm welcome we afford to visitors have long served the country well. Capitalising on those even more can only redound to our greater benefit.

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