The Ministry of Tourism, through its Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) has launched the Top Events Jamaica initiative – designed to increase visitor participation in events and activities islandwide.
Top Events will use strategic partnerships to leverage the power of technology, social mediaand advertising.
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, in highlighting the significance of the platform said, “We recognise that entertainment forms a large part of why people travel and as such there is value in building out more products of this nature to drive arrivals and growth in the sector. This is why we established the Sports and Entertainment Network under the Linkages Network to help diversify our tourism product.”
Top events will be a critical element that brings together authentic Jamaican entertainment products under one roof through the use of technology,” Bartlett told guests gathered at Devon House for the Top Events launch last week.
Click the slider for highlights of the launch captured by Llewellyn Wynter.
Head of the ministry’s Sports and Entertainment Network Kamal Bankay, believes the platform canhelp increase the number of visitors participating in local events from 100,000 to one million.
Of the historic 4.32 million visitors that arrived on the island last year, only 100,000 attended the over 15,000 local events last year, according to Bankay.
“Our goal is to move this 100,000 attendees by tourists to one million. It’s an ambitious number but think about the growth and development of all sectors listed here today would have, if we move from 2.5 per cent, up to 25 per cent,” Bankay said.
The Top Events initiative will include a microsite and an easy-to-use mobile app to increase visitor awareness and participation in the over 900 events held in Jamaica each month.
To qualify for listing on Top Events, event organisers must meet the predetermined criteria outlined by the TLN that guarantees continuity in the content delivery and effective data capture.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange; State Minister in the Ministry of Industry Floyd Green and Director of Tourism, Donovan White, enjoy a game of domino at the Top Events launch.
The TLN will be utilising key partnerships with relevant stakeholders throughout the industry to help drive the initiative. These partners include event promoters, hoteliers, airports, local attractions, transportation providers, restaurants, Airbnb, as well as tour operators.
In addition to hosting Jamaica’s Top Events, the platform will provide visitors with real-time hotspots and locations or sites where ticket purchases and transportation arrangements may be made.
"We would essentially be redeveloping our industries, flooding them with the supply of persons and they would experience significant growth in their sectors. The trickle down and economic impact of this would be undeniable," Bankay said.
Local organisers will be able to list their events on the Top Events directory, free of cost.
“Once you are a part of this programme you will be able to get a platform to list your activities and marketing support from the Government of Jamaica's agencies behind this platform,” Bankay said.
"This is not only for annual events, as we also have a section for top weekly events. So top weekly events that happen at bars, restaurant and night clubs, will also be featured as well," he added.
With Jamaica earning US$3.3 billion from the tourism industry last year, Tourism Minister Bartlett is also seeking to have tourists participate in the historical and cultural heritage of the island through music, dance and drama, sports, food and the warmth of the people.
“There is the reality that while every township and communities across the country always come alive with exciting events, they do not attract our visitors because they do now know of them. In real terms, our visitors are not getting all they can out of their visit and our Jamaican people are not reaping the full benefits of potential tourists spending,” Bartlett said.
"Think of the impact of getting just US$100 more from each of the 4.32 million tourists who are not now patronizing our events. That's approximatelyJ$504 million. I need not tell you the impact that amount of money could have circulating among our people.”
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, described the partnership between the two ministries as "dynamic".
“We take another significant step in the brandishing of brand Jamaica. It is about recognising the creativity of our Jamaican people and putting in place mechanisms to use their creations to diversity and expand the offerings to tourists who decide to make it to Jamaica. It is about acknowledging that we are a people of entertainment and letting the world know.
"Top Events must not just list the obvious like Reggae Sumfest, Rebel Salute and Dream Weekend, but should broaden its horizon to include say the Accompong Maroon Festival in St Elizabeth for those who are interested in culture and heritage tourism,” Grange said.
The culture minister also expressed hopes of seeing visitors flock to the National Gallery to view the exhibition of Jamaican intuitive featuring Mallica Capo Reynolds for lovers of fine art or to Or Ray Town on a Sunday night for those who want a very rootsy engagement with grassroots Jamaica.