BY INGRID BROWN Associate Editor — Special Assignment email@example.com
LONDON, England — 'Brand Jamaica' will go on show today in London with the opening of the specially created 'Jamaica House' — a 10-day celebration of Jamaica's culture, food, and manufacturing capabilities.
More than 10,000 persons have already registered online to attend the event at the O2 Arena where thousands of Olympic Games patrons pass through daily to watch the gymnastic competitions. Jamaica House will open until August 12.
Employees from Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and the Jamaica Business Development Centre worked late into last night to get things ready for the opening of the Jamaica Shop, which will welcome patrons ahead of the official opening of Jamaica House later in the day. Workmen were also busy preparing the venue, while the instruments for the live band were already set up on stage for what promises to be a golden ten days.
Jason Hall of the Jamaica Tourist Board said the Olympics organisers required that persons register their interest to attend in order to manage the crowd flow at the Arena.
But it already seems as if the event could be oversubscribed as Hall said some 10,200 persons have since registered online.
"The interest is very high as major media houses such as CNN, NBC, BBC, Sky TV, ITV and ITN among others have already been accredited to be here," he said.
He explained further that people are still actively registering but that the venue can only accommodate 1,000 persons at a time.
Gene Hylton, JAMPRO's manager of the Jamaica Shop, who — along with her team — was busy sorting hundreds of items when the Jamaica Observer visited, said the shop will be stocking products from some 90 exhibitors.
"I have high expectations for Jamaica House," Hylton said, adding that several persons on their way from a game earlier in the day stopped to take pictures and asked questions.
"I believe the products will do well because of the wide variety and quality that we have to attract the English and wider European audience," she said.
Meanwhile, Communications Manager at JAMPRO, Mark Thomas, said Jamaica House will not just be about the retail but will have a trade component as the plan is to bring distributors and buyers in to see the wide range of Jamaican products on offer.
"The aim is to get distribution contracts from both small and large contractors," he said.
There will be an Agriculture Day on August 10, which has also attracted heightened interest as persons continue to attribute the performance of the Jamaican athletes, particularly the sprinters, to the foods they eat.
The message was very clear on one of the T-shirts on sale. It read 'No dope just yams, the food of champions'.