Above: Jamaica (CJ Photo)
By Guy Britton
MONTEGO BAY — For Minister of State Damion Crawford and the government of Jamaica, it’s a natural fit — linking two of the country’s most famous industries: tourism and entertainment.
For decades, Jamaica’s artistic and cultural industries have punched far above their weight, led by the staggering global growth of reggae.
And linking the major exchange earner of tourism with Jamaica’s musical identity will continue, Crawford said at the recent Tourism Outlook Seminar in Montego Bay.
Indeed, when Crawford was elected to Parliament in 2012, Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller merged the portfolios of both tourism and entertainment into one Ministry.
“Entertainment cuts across all barriers of class, race and gender with Reggae and Dancehall bringing people of varying nationalities and cultural backgrounds together,” Crawford said. “The world has galvanized around the Jamaican beat and has taken it from the zinc fence backyards of ghetto communities, to uptown and across international borders into the White House. The performance of our music has moved from community dance halls to celebrated philharmonic halls.”
“We must therefore capitalize on this,” Crawford said. “We recognize the potential to earn from the growing entertainment industry if we are able to exploit the opportunities. This requires enhancing the linkages between tourism and other sectors.”
Jamaica has already embarked on several initiatives in that vein, from the creation of an “entertainment registry” to the establishment of Entertainment Zones “where our artistes can exhaust themselves entertaining patrons without disturbing neighbours and having to shut down just when the vibes are at their peak.”
The government also plans an “event rating system,” which would “assist in setting standards, lift the quality of entertainment all round and give the public and sponsors alike a clear indication of what they can expect,” he said.
A major prong of these efforts is the development of special programmes aimed at positioning entertainment itself as an “attractor” or a reason to travel to Jamaica.
“Our signature venture, ‘90 days of Summer’, which packages a host of entertainment events to serve as a drawing card to attract visitors, will be a major fixture on the calendar for the summer of 2015,” Crawford said.