Americas’ Sail expected to give MoBay big boost
BUSINESS and tourism interests in Montego Bay are looking forward to next year’s Americas’ Sail boating and cultural event to boost the western city’s hotel occupancy levels.
Chairman of the event’s Montego Bay committee and cruise ship terminal manager, David Lindo, estimates that the tall ship event has the potential to fill all the hotel rooms in the city.
“In 1995 (the American host city) of Greenport Village had 25,000 people a day, (in 1998) Glen Cove had half a million, and Savannah had 1.2 million people. All the hotels for 20 miles were sold out,” he said.
“If we plan the event properly, and do it the way we know how to do it we will fill every hotel room in Montego Bay the way we usually do for Sumfest.”
There is usually a dip in visitor arrivals in the summer months, a concept now addressed in August by the staging of Sumfest. Next year’s Americas’ Sail would take care of bookings in mid-June.
One hundred and thirty six tall ships have been invited to participate in the event, according to Americas’ Sail CEO Rev William Wendler. About 20 Americas’ Sail VIPs would be accommodated on land, along with the visitors the event is expected to pull in.
“Ships from all over the world, including places like Indonesia and Yemin, have been invited,” the CEO said at a press launch in Montego Bay on Thursday. “Six months prior to the event, we’ll announce who is expected.”
The race starts in Curacao on June 6 and the first ships are slated to arrive in Montego Bay on June 14. There will be a Parade of Sail in the western city on the 15th, with the Sail Festival scheduled over the next two days. A formal dinner, a Regatta at the Montego Bay Yacht Club, a party on the Gloucester Avenue Hip Strip, and a fireworks show will be among the events that will culminate in the ships’ grand departure on June 18.
This is the third staging of Americas’ Sail, which had its inaugural staging in 1995 with 23 participating ships.
Attracting such an event to the island is seen as a major coup by the Jamaica Tourist Board, which paid US$50,000 to get the event here.
Additional funds will be spent to upgrade the Montego Bay and Port Antonio ports to accommodate the visiting ships.
Prime Minister P J Patterson recently announced a major upgrading project for the Port Antonio facility, $10 million has already been spent in Montego Bay, and additional work is still slated to be done.