VIDEO: Jamaica eyes more visitors for carnival in 2019
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett with a model in the Bacchanal Jamaica costume at the launch of Carnival in Jamaica on Tuesday.
'Carnival in Jamaica' was launched on Tuesday with the government reaffirming its commitment to facilitating the continued growth of the event which attracted a record number of visitors to the island last year.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said his ministry is leading the charge in developing the Carnival in Jamaica initiative, to strengthen Jamaica’s competitiveness as an entertainment destination. He lauded the initiative for its economic value to the country as it generated record earnings in 2017, and called for greater investments to be made, to further develop the industry.
“We have to invite investors to develop and spend good dollars, on products that bring return on investment. We know that this is entertainment, but it is also business — big business! Investors are going to be interested in building out products that are sustainable," said Bartlett at the launch, held at the Spanish Court hotel in St Andrew.
He continued by stating that “People come from all over the world to pay for the carnival experience in Jamaica. When they pay for it, we must ensure that they get a valuable product. I want Jamaica’s carnival to be opinionated, so that it remains on the lips of people for years to come. This is the reason we joined forces with both public and private sector entities to develop and market the product worldwide.”
Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange meanwhile described Carnival as a "staple event" on the local entertainment calendar which is now having realising significant international appeal.
The Tourism Linkages Network launched the Carnival in Jamaica initiative in 2016, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; the Ministry of National Security as well as key private sector entities involved in Jamaica’s carnival experience.
Data from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) indicates that visitors spent an average of US$236 per person per day during the last Carnival season, for an average of five days. Thirty-four per cent of this expenditure was on accommodation, the Ministry of Tourism said.
Carnival also reportedly contributed significantly to arrival figures and earnings, with January to August 2018 indicating total arrivals of some 2.9 million, up 4.8 per cent over the same period last year; and gross foreign exchange earnings for the same period at US$2.2 billion, up 7.4 per cent over the same period in 2017.
“Once you multiply the average amount spent by visitors and the number of days spent, you will see the kind of impact that they have on the economy. We are excited about growing this industry, which attracts so many of our visitors. Once they come, it means more money spent in the country.
Carnival needs to be a revolving activity – it culminates during the Easter period – but there must be carnival activities in terms of preparatory work and infrastructure arrangements year-round making the industry more sustainable,” said Bartlett.
He further noted that the parade has grown from just over 2000 people in 2016 to 6000 people in 2018. Visitor arrivals through Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) for the respective Easter/Carnival periods between 2016 and 2018 increased by 19.7 per cent from 14,186 to 16,982 visitors.
The majority of visitors were from the USA (72 per cent), with approximately half from New York and 22 per cent from Florida. Millennials (67 per cent) accounted for the majority of those who visited for the carnival experience. Also noteworthy, was that 34 per cent were visiting Jamaica for the first time, with the majority (61 per cent) being first time attendees at Carnival in Jamaica.
“Carnival essentially stimulates the excitement of the young. The whole digital transformation currently happening in tourism is about reaching the millennials. The content that we will be building will be targeting the millennials. More importantly, we are culturing a product that is affordable for the millennials,” said Minister Bartlett.
The JTB is providing marketing support for Carnival in Jamaica.
The Carnival season will officially begin on April 23, 2019, with band launches scheduled for as early as next month.