Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest, dubbed “The Greatest Show on Earth,” began today. According to Chairman of the production company, Summerfest Productions, Robert Russell, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) estimates an expected 6,000 visitors to the island to participate in this year’s 18th staging of the event in Montego Bay, scheduled to take place over four days (July 17, 22, 23, and 24). This number of visitors, coupled with thousands of Jamaicans also expected to come to the event, provide the groundwork for a fantastic Reggae SUMFEST 2010 over the four-day period.
“I think this is going to be the salvation for the summer for Jamaica and for tourism”, Mr. Russell stated. “I think the response for this year has been overwhelming, the fact that we were able to contract Chris Brown and Usher, has made a really big difference to our marketplace and our clientele,” he said. Mr. Russell pointed out that producing the show costs over $100 million, and praised corporate Jamaica for its sponsorship. “Direct and indirect employment (to produce the show) is close to 1,000 people, and that does not include security and production and all those categories. We have quite a big contingent of security and production personnel, artistes, musicians and liaison personnel among others,” he stated. Additionally, he pointed to the expected expenditure from visitors, stating that a minimum average of about US$1,500 per person will be spent, amounting to approximately US$9 million or about J$1 billion. Checks by JIS News with a number of craft vendors and taxi drivers across the city revealed an eagerness for the show, all stating that during that period there is always an increase in income, during what would normally be a down period. “Reggae Sumfest is like a saviour in the summer months, I am sure to make a money I can put aside to send my children to school come September,” taxi driver Rupert Brown stated. Craft vendor Hilda Chambers, expressing the sentiments of most in her line of business, stated that “usually there are a lot of tourists visiting, and Jamaicans who live abroad come home for the show; so if it is even for the week before, the week of the show and the week after, things usually look up, you can make a money”.