Western News

All Set for Jazz!

Hotels report high occupancy levels; organisers promise quality show

BY HORACE HINES AND MARK CUMMINGS

Thursday, January 30, 2014    

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FLORENCE HALL, Trelawny

AS the 18th staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival kicks off at the spacious Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium tonight, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is reporting that hotels across the parishes of St James and Trelawny are experiencing high occupancy levels.

"Indications from the Montego Bay hotels are that they are seeing good business. Most of them are booked out. People have to be moving over to the parishes of Trelawny and St Ann seeking rooms," Evelyn Smith, the president of the JHTA, told the Jamaica Observer West yesterday.

She was, however, quick to point out that at this time of the year, hotels generally enjoy good occupancy levels, and as such was unable to definitively speak to the percentage increase in hotel room occupancy that the festival has created.

According to Junior Taylor, the associate producer for the festival, "everything is in place for the staging of the event."

"The sound, the lights... everything is in place," he stressed, adding that vendors were yesterday busy setting up stalls for their food and craft items that will be on sale.

Taylor also disclosed yesterday that some of the international artistes billed for the festival are already in the island.

He emphasised that the local economy stands to benefit significantly from the staging of the event.

"The economic spin-off should be great, as all the hotels are full. Also, financial gains are expected for attractions, car rentals, farmers, stall owners, among others, from the staging of the festival," he argued.

And Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkinson said his administration has done everything possible to make the festival, which is being staged in Trelawny for the fifth consecutive year, a tremendous success.

"We have met with all the local agencies, as well as the production team for the event in an effort to ensure that the festival is a huge success, and to demonstrate that the parish can host major events," said Wilkinson.

He too noted that the local economy will benefit from the festival which is expected to pull thousands of local and overseas visitors to

the parish.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of Area One, Warren Clarke, revealed that the police are in a state of readiness to provide security for the event.

"We are 100 per cent ready to go. We had our last meeting with the event organisers on Tuesday, and we are satisfied that the venue is physically ready to ensure that patrons attending the property for the festival are fully secured," ACP Clarke told the Observer West, adding that "we have also beefed up our traffic policing capacity."

Meanwhile, Taylor is promising patrons, good quality entertainment over the three -day festival.

"I want to promise the patrons three nights of musical fulfilment and entertainment. Great music, good vibes," he said, noting that with the blend of performers, "there is a little something for everyone."

Founded in 1996, the festival now attracts an audience of over 25,000 and has solidified its reputation and position as one of the premier events in this hemisphere.

This year the festival kicks off with what has been dubbed 'Jamaica Night' and will see performances by the inimitable Marcia Griffiths and Friends, in celebration of her 50th anniversary in music.

Not to be missed is The Other Side of Moses Davis, Chronixx, Chalice, Christopher Martin, Leba and Bryan Art to round off the line-up.

Tomorrow Grammy winners Toni Braxton and Chrisette Michele will lead the galaxy of stars performing, which includes Joe, Najee, Protoje, Peter Lloyd and Samuele Vivian & Gabriella Reno.

The festival closes on Saturday night with performances from The O'Jays, Chaka Khan, Beres Hammond, Arron Nevelle, Crystal Gayle, Bobby Kinball, Della Manley and One Third.

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