Jamaica becoming a soca kingdom - Tourism and Entertainment Ministries say Carnival growing in island
Officials within the Tourism and Entertainment Ministries are happy with the growth of carnival in Jamaica, and believe the development will not slow down anytime soon.
Speaking with The STAR during the Road March on Carnival Sunday, State Minister in the Entertainment Ministry, Alando Terrelonge, said having witnessed a strong showing by the three bands this year, he believes the soca scene is poised to grow even more.
"When you look at the numbers for Xaymaca alone, I hear figures are 1,800 females, 400 males this year, and that is an exponential growth in terms of the numbers, and I'm sure the other two bands have grown as well," he said. "People are coming to Jamaica because of our culture, and carnival cannot be left out when talking about culture in Jamaica. There are so many tourists who are here just to enjoy this, and the more visitors we get, the more tourism contributes to the overall economic growth of the country."
Pointing out that his Ministry welcomes any product that will improve the country's economy, Terrelonge said he doesn't see the carnival momentum dying out any time soon, and believes more persons are getting involved.
"Each year you have new players coming on the scene, so maybe next year we will have more persons who want to launch bands. Carnival has really created a good climate for entertainment in Jamaica, and I'm happy to be part of the movement and the Ministry is happy to be part of it as well," he said.
Speaking of growth, Delano Seiveright, chief adviser and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, put things into perspective using figures.
According to data gathered during the week of April 1 to 7 (the week before Road March), Seiveright said that a total of 5,1384 tourists visited the island.
Of that figure 9,000 flew into Kingston, a 22.8 per cent increase from the same period last year. He pointed to carnival's influence.
"This is the second year since the Ministry of Tourism with the JTB decided to partner with private sector entities to push the Jamaica branded event (carnival in Jamaica), and we exceeded last year, and we expect to exceed those numbers again next year," he said.
"Kingston was absolutely full for Carnival. All the hotels were booked, Air BnB properties were booked, and persons were doing short-term rentals. It was a beehive of activities across Kingston, and persons benefitting from that spread across the entire Corporate Area," he added.
Seiveright said a number of persons, including taxi operators, hairdressers, and dressmakers benefitted.
"That's what we really wanted to see and we're happy it happened. Carnival in Jamaica is one of those events that allow a lot of the tourist hustle to spread far and wide in the economy, and that was seen this weekend," he said.