Jamaica's allure something to cheer about
Tourists enjoying a Jamaican beach

It gave us great joy to report last week that visitor arrivals to Jamaica this month have been projected at 300,000 which, we are told, will result in earnings of approximately US$407 million.

The pull for this flood of visitors, our tourism officials have said, is a number of entertainment events, among them Reggae Sumfest, scheduled for July 16 to 22 in Montego Bay.

Initially, the tourism officials had named the weekly street party Uptown Mondays among the events, saying that African music superstar Burna Boy would be in attendance on July 10 as part of his birthday celebrations. However, we have since learnt that the Nigerian singer, whose given name is Mr Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, actually attended the long-running and extremely popular Weddy Weddy Wednesdays party at the headquarters of world-renowned champion sound system Stone Love in St Andrew.

Weddy Weddy has been a staple on Jamaica's entertainment calendar for near two decades, attracting visitors, some from as far away as Asia, who enjoy our popular music, especially dancehall. Video clips of this week's staging, which saw Burna Boy giving an impromptu performance, suggest that it was an enjoyable occasion and a fulfilling exchange of cultures, which is one of tourism's endearing benefits.

That brings us to Reggae Sumfest, which, now in its 30th year, has proven to be one of the greatest ambassadors of Jamaican music and culture. That this festival has endured over the years is due, in no small measure, to its organisers — initially Summerfest Promotions, the founders, and now DownSound Entertainment headed by the indefatigable Mr Josef Bogdanovich, who has promised that this year's staging will be the "most memorable yet".

Given our knowledge of Mr Bogdanovich's business acumen and his unwavering commitment to the development and promotion of Jamaican music, we have no doubt that he and his partners will deliver on that promise.

Indeed, Mr Robert Russell, a director of Reggae Sumfest, told us last month that what has kept the festival going is hard work, perseverance, and an abiding faith that if the promoters are able to maintain the high standards that they set from the first staging then patrons will always continue to support the festival.

Staging an event of this magnitude is not easy, and the fact that it puts Jamaica on show globally makes it even more important that it continues to be properly managed.

Of course we, like all well-thinking Jamaicans, and especially those in the tourism industry, embrace Reggae Sumfest as we are aware of the economic, social, and cultural impact of special events like Sumfest on our economy.

In our report last week, Director of Tourism Mr Donovan White highlighted the fact that Jamaica continues to be a sought-after destination, and events like Reggae Sumfest definitely help to attract many visitors to our shores.

Tourism officials have suggested that all being well, by the end of 2023, Jamaica will experience a full recovery in our annual visitor arrival figures, with projections of 3.9 million tourists and foreign exchange earnings of US$4.3 billion.

That is something to cheer about and we, in this space, hope that it will not be derailed by any adverse geopolitical, social or weather events.

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