Summer festivals applauded
A section of the cheering audience during the Dave Kelly tribute at Reggae Sumfest held at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in MoBay, St James, in July.Photo: Karl Mclarty

The chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB) is very excited about the summer events and festivals. I have been talking about the Roaring 20s, and I believe we saw a slice of what is possible in the summer of 2022.

This, on the heels of the recent announcement by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

Minister Bartlett recently announced that we had an additional 5,000 visitors to Jamaica this year, which is a significant increase over that which we experienced in 2019.

A significant 20 per cent increase from 2019 to 2022 is an increase worth highlighting and informs us that our tourism industry is doing the behind-the-scenes work to improve. The EAB chairman congratulated the tourism minister and the team at the Ministry of Tourism for their continued hard work. I would like to commend the relevant parties that play a role in improving our status and continue to empower us to do more.

The EAB chairman reserved special praise for the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange, the summer festival and event promoters, and all the members of the entertainment, creative, and cultural industries (ECCI) for their role in this resurgence of visitors to the island. It is no coincidence that we had a great Reggae Sumfest, Dream Weekend, Best Weekend Ever, and arguably the best Grand Gala we have ever had. All these events were well attended by the many visitors from countries far and wide and our own Diaspora celebrating Jamaica 60 in style.

We know that the astute tourism evangelist is taking note. He knows why people come to Jamaica. It is no longer for just sun, sand, and beach. It is for our people, our food, our entertainment, our culture, our events, our music, our festivals, our history, our resilience in overcoming challenges. We are blessed as a country despite the many challenges we continue to face. We will get over this crime monster and the economic challenges as long as we as a people all work together for the good of Jamaica.

McIntosh is of the firm belief that a big part of the reason is our tremendous reputation for entertainment, our cultural offerings, and our incredible creativity. "Nowhere in the world offers 21 days of what we offer annually each and every summer. Nowhere. Our Jamaica festival is the best offering of a 21-day experience you could ask for if you are looking for an experience which gives you the opportunity to experience all that is good about Jamaica…its people, its food, its music, its culture, its parties, the rum, the beer, the jerk chicken and pork, the Hellshire fish, etc.

He took time out to congratulate the promoter of the events over this period for their contributions to the country's employment, gross domestic product, and the economy at large. He highlighted events like Reggae Sumfest, Dream Weekend, Best Weekend Ever, Sandz, Sunnation, Yush, the Rum Festival, and the big one, the Grand Gala. Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) offering of celebratory events, which include food, gospel, and beauty must also be mentioned. Not to mention our theatre and dance offerings during this period. Their fearless leader, Minister Grange, continues to perform at the top of her game, despite being under resourced in many areas. The Ministry of Tourism must be commended for their tireless efforts to ensure we rebound.

The summer was made even greater for Brand Jamaica with the performances of our sports teams, especially in the areas of track and field at the World Championships, netball at the Commonwealth Games, and the Reggae Girl in qualifying for another World Cup. The only Caribbean nation to have achieved qualifying for consecutive World Cups ever. What a Jamaica 60 summer! Brand Jamaica is alive and well with the ECCI representing the cornerstone of this brand and tremendous country.

After this summer, the way the industry has rebounded, McIntosh believes that the minister who oversees the ECCI portfolio should no longer have to fight as hard for resources because it is becoming clearer to many "why people come to Jamaica".

Speaking of resources, the Government must be congratulated for the recent announcements of facilities available to the ECCI players. Facilities have been developed for the entertainment sector through the Development Bank of Jamaica and the culture, health, arts, sports, and education (CHASE) Fund. While we work through all the details, these types of facilities can only help in the resurgence. Congrats to Prime Minister Andrew Holness for delivering on a promise made earlier this year. Minister Grange, we know you continue to work your magic.

So, as we continue with the Roaring 20s and we see a future where COVID-19 is no longer as significant, we give thanks to all Jamaicans at home and abroad. Our Diaspora supports us in ways unimaginable and helped to make our record arrival numbers in summer 2022. We especially thank all our front line workers in health, public safety, sanitation, and transportation. We thank all our visitors for coming and attending all our events and festivals.

We look forward to the rest of Jamaica 60 (the prime minister has indicated that we are going the full year), Reggae Month 2023, Jamaica festival 2023 (properly defined), and the rest of the tremendous events we will be having for the rest of 2022 going into 2023.

I am reminded of a song by the great lyricist Admiral Bailey, "Nowhere no better than yaad." We are truly blessed to have the hardest- working culture, gender, entertainment and sport minister Jamaica has ever seen, while having the tourism evangelist Edmund Bartlett helping to make sure we rebuild and rebound. We know the legislation and infrastructure are coming to further support the ECCI. The creative Economy Act, a performing arts centre, and more support is coming based on the prime minister's promise. We know the capital is coming as the private sector develops a better understand of the ECCI. We know that summer 2023 will be another great year. Let us big up Jamaica!

Howard McIntosh.

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