Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says 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.
Speaking at the 2019 launch of the Ministry’s Carnival in Jamaica initiative at the Spanish Court hotel today, the Minister stated: “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.”
He continued by stating: “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.”
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 percent of this expenditure was on accommodation.
Carnival also contributed significantly to arrival figures and earnings, with January to August 2018 indicating total arrivals of some 2.9 million up 4.8% over the same period last year; and gross foreign exchange earnings for the same period at US$2.2 billion, up 7.4% 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 the Minister.
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% from 14,186 to 16,982 visitors.
The majority of visitors were from the USA (72%), with approximately half from New York and 22% from Florida. Millennials (67%) accounted for the majority of those who visited for the carnival experience. Also noteworthy, was that 34% were visiting Jamaica for the first time, with the majority (61%) 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. JTB’s total media impressions from coverage of 2017 carnival amounted to 12,886,666 impressions. They also developed a website (www.carnivalinjamaica.com) which lists all soca-themed events, places to stay, what to do, and who to follow.
The Carnival season will officially begin on April 23, 2019, with band launches scheduled for as early as next month.