SUMFEST BUZZ

MoBay experiencing spike in economic activity from reggae festival

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — There is a marked increase in economic activity arising from the 26th staging of the week-long Reggae Sumfest, which kicked off on Sunday in the tourist resort city of Montego Bay.

Robin Russell, chairman of the Montego Bay chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), told the Jamaica Observer West yesterday that hotels in and around Montego Bay are now enjoying a 100 per cent occupancy level.

“All hotels are full. The closest hotel rooms are now available in Negril. Everybody is super excited and have been preparing for this week. So far, the events are very good; the street dance and the beach party were very good,” said Russell.

“If the reception from the first two nights of Sumfest is anything to go by, then this year's staging will be one of the best ever. The line-up is great.”

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), Janet Silvera, expressed similar sentiments.

“Montego Bay is doing very, very well. It's a good feeling. There are a lot of festivities, the town feels better. I think more Jamaicans are going to come from overseas this year to attend Reggae Sumfest,” she noted.

“Downsound (organisers of the festival) has really hit a winning formula for the event this year, and I think that they are going to do exceptionally well with the festival because people are really looking forward to especially, Friday and Saturday nights.”

She attributes the buzz surrounding the festival to the great anticipation of the performances of reggae kingpins, Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Chronixx, and others.

“In the history of Sumfest I don't recall seeing the type of excitement that surrounds it this year, and I believe this is as a result of Buju, Chronixx and Beres Hammond, Koffee, and others,” Silvera said.

Russell, who is also the security manager of the festival, indicted that everything is in place for the two final nights of the event at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre venue.

“We are ready. The venue is ready, everything is ready. We have made extra preparations…we have acquired more parking lots. We have created an entertainment zone from the airport all the way to Freeport to facilitate Sumfest in the state of emergency,” Russell expressed.

Claudia Artwell, the venue manager for the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, disclosed that a safety team will be added to “the greatest reggae festival on earth this year”.

“We have a safety team that we trained this year along with the fire department. They are trained in basic safety. We are going to ensure that everybody is comfortable. We will be going around and checking if fire extinguishers are working, make sure that safety procedures are adhered to, and so on…right now Downsound is on the top of things,” said Artwell.

Commander of the St James police division Superintendent Vernon Ellis revealed that the police are prepared for the hosting of the annual reggae festival.

“For the Reggae Sumfest we would have received additional assets to ensure that we secure the city in a proper way for the period,” Superintendent Ellis assured.

Sumfest 2019 features Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Chronixx, Beenie Man, and Bounty Killa.

Other acts down to thrill the thousands expected for the festival include Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Romaine Virgo, X-Factor winner Dalton Harris, Agent Sasco, Spice, and Spragga Benz.

The 26-year-old festival staged under the theme 'Our Music, Our Festival', got underway with a beach party and will move to the main venue, Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, from Friday, July 19 to Saturday, July 20.

Meanwhile, craft traders, restaurant operators, and other businesses are also cashing in on the influx of visitors to the resort city.

There is definitely an increase in business over the past few days, and we expect that sales will further increase on the weekend when the festival moves into high gear,” said a craft trader.


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