MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – The Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, January 25 to 27, continues to boost the Jamaican economy.
At the new spacious venue at the Aqueduct on Rose Hall, titled “The Art of Music,” tens of thousands of fans applauded sensational performances from a top cast of Caribbean and international musicians such as Michael Bolton, Monty Alexander, Sanchez, Shaggy, Wayne Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Kenny Rogers. It included winners of a JazzFest Quest “talent search” competition, held in several US cities before the festival.
Event producer Walter Elmore of TurnKey Productions, said the festival accommodated about 30,000 patrons over the three days and the impact on the country’s economy was “absolutely amazing.”
“The restaurants were completely packed, the supermarkets were running out of food, there were long lines at gas stations, the whole north coast of Jamaica between Montego, Negril and Ocho Rios was clogged with people, every hotel room, inn and villa was full,” said Elmore, whose only regret was traffic congestion associated with road improvements on the island which affected the turnout and vendor sales on the final Saturday night. ” The gridlock should be something of the past,” said Elmore, who noted that come 2008, plans for the new venue include an underpass, which connects to a four-lane highway.
George deMercado, Air Jamaica’s Vice President of Sales, described the festival as “another success” and said Air Jamaica is committed to renewing its sponsorship. “Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues is an important event for our airline. It is a festival that we support strongly, and we thank our travel partners for having chosen Air Jamaica as their preferred carrier during the festival period and for continuing to support us throughout the year.”
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Entertainment & Culture, the Hon. Aloun N’dombet Assamba said the festival is a premier event that has jump-started tourism for 2007. “We did well last year and we’re going to have to work harder this year to keep on top of it, but the business is coming – we have a lot of new rooms, the infrastructure is solid, we have some exciting attractions, we have had the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and there are many others that come during the year. I am very excited.”
In addition to the music, Sandals Resorts chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart and Michele Rollins of Rose Hall Developments Limited, were honored during last weekend’s festival.