Don’t be mistaken, warns an experienced Caribbean festival producer, Caribbean Diaspora communities drive tourism in the region, and also support the development of economies back home.
Speaking to journalists, editors and community leaders at Sirius XM Satellite Radio studios in New York on Friday, Walter Elmore, chairman of Art of Music Productions Limited, asserted that festival tourism was key to Jamaica and the Caribbean region and that nationals overseas were key drivers of business not only to musical festivals, but to the whole region throughout the year.
“Just look at the turnout today – Caribbean people have come out to find out what’s going on at home so they can make their travel plans as well as bring others along with them,” said Elmore who was in Manhattan for the New York City launch of the 16th annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival “The Art of Music”, a three-day celebration from January 26 to 28, 2012 at the Greenfield Stadium in Trelawny.
Invoking a recent University of the West Indies study on “Strategic Opportunities in Caribbean Migration”, Walter argued that Diaspora tourism was critically important to the Caribbean. “The researchers have carefully documented that our nationals come home for educational, medical cultural and many other reasons and spend a lot of money with our telecommunications companies and the airlines,” said Elmore.
“We’re no longer guessing,” said Elmore. “It’s time for all Caribbean countries to work more closely with their nationals in the marketplace,” he added, as he showered praise on Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett for taking the Diaspora seriously. “We pay tribute to our nationals for carrying the flag and sharing the spirit of our homelands here in America,” Elmore noted.
Artistes confirmed for the 2012 festival include multi-platinum, five-time Grammy award-winning singer Celine Dion, Kelly Rowland, Nicole Henry, Jully Black; and Jamaica’s Shaggy and Richie Stephens who both made a special appearance at the New York launch.
In recognition of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence, the entire Thursday night line-up will be dedicated to the history of Jamaican music with performances from across the various musical eras: ska, rocksteady, dub and reggae. Other Jamaicans scheduled to perform are Toots Hibbert, John Holt, Yellow Man and Half Pint.