KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, says Jamaica will bid to host Carifesta in 2012, which could be one of the highlights of the country’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations.
Speaking at a dinner/reception given by the Jamaica Trade Council of Greater Philadelphia, honouring outgoing Jamaican Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Anthony Johnson and Mrs. Johnson, Miss Grange said that Jamaica was “pulling out all stops” to ensure a successful bid.
“This will be a great way to highlight our 50th year of independence,” the Minister told the audience at the function held at the Mid Atlantic Restaurant in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday, April 24.
She noted that a 50th Anniversary Secretariat has been established to begin planning for the event. The secretariat will have a committee which will focus on working with the Diaspora to plan a grand homecoming for Jamaicans.
She also extended an invitation to Jamaicans all over the world to start planning to be in Jamaica for this “grand once in a life-time celebration” of the country’s half century milestone.
Turning to the guest of honour, Miss Grange lauded Ambassador Johnson for his outstanding contribution to Jamaica and to the public service. She said that in his two years in the USA, as Jamaica’s representative to the White House, he has represented his country with distinction.
“I have no doubt he will do the same in London,” she added.
In his tribute, President of the Jamaica Trade Council of Greater Philadelphia, Dr. Harold Mignott, hailed Ambassador Johnson for the outstanding support he gave to the trade council during his tenure in Washington. He said this has resulted in the success of the council in finding new investors to partner with Jamaican entrepreneurs.
In his response, Ambassador Johnson urged the Council to look at promoting health and sports tourism, as new avenues of investment opportunities in Jamaica. The injection of overseas investments in these two areas will help to improve Jamaica’s foreign exchange earnings, as well as create additional job opportunities he said.
“Pittsburg and Philadelphia are great centres of medicine, and we need to develop health facilities in Jamaica which are able to provide special operations and other special treatments to Americans, at a much lower cost but of the same quality as exists in the United States,” he stated.
Ambassador Johnson said that all efforts must be made to increase exports from Jamaica to Philadelphia, which is now just under US$80 million.
“Jamaica and Philadelphia had strong trade relationships in the 18th century, and there is no reason why we cannot rekindle that trading relationship, so that both Jamaica and Philadelphia can benefit,” he said.
The Ambassador noted that one way Jamaica could double its trade would be to have Philadelphia as port of entry for a wide range of Jamaican products, and to get the Jamaican community, as well as the wider business community in Philadelphia, to become interested in the country’s products.