By February 17, 2009 0 Comments Read More →

No Tobago Jazz Fest ’09

By Sandra Chouthi

TOBAGO – There will be no Plymouth Jazz Festival for 2009. That announcement was made yesterday by Anthony Maharaj, CEO of CL Communications Ltd and producer of the Festival, at a press conference held at Mt Irvine Bay Hotel and Golf Club, Scarborough. News that the fifth anniversary of the popular show won’t be held came two weeks after it was reported that CL Financial opted out of being the main sponsor, as it was cutting costs.

Maharaj sa id the 2008 show cost $50 million and ticket sales yielded $17 million.”The festival for 2009 has been postponed for a year or so,” said Oswald Williams, Tourism Secretary in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), in a phone interview yesterday.Williams said the cancellation was due to the global financial crisis.

Williams said Maharaj stated bookings indicated there was not a great interest in this year’s event from people from North America and Europe. “Therefore, they would anticipate a challenge in terms of the ability to raise funds and in terms of attendance, which would have impacted negatively on the image of the festival and the artistes,” Williams said.

Forbes 500 has voted the Plymouth Jazz Festival, which has over the years attracted such headline acts as Diana Ross, Mary J Blige, Rod Stewart and Elton John, as the “third Biggest Event on Planet Earth.”

The show was scheduled to be held between April 24-26.

Maharaj said the organising committee had already signed on Toni Braxton, John Legend and Gloria Estefan, and that talks were being held with representatives for Celine Dion and singer/actress Queen Latifah. Williams reported Maharaj said Queen Latifah must love T&T because she had agreed to return to Tobago for the festival, despite a member of her entourage being robbed of jewelry during a stay at Stone Haven Villas in December, 2008.

Williams said Maharaj indicated that the level of sponsorship the festival attracted last year was not as available for the 2009 show.
Williams said postponement of the festival will mean a loss in terms of arrivals and cancelled bookings. “We are talking with industry stakeholders. We met with the Tobago Hotels Association.”

He added: “We are going to put a committee to possibly put up an alternative event to minimise the extent of the fallout.” Allan Clovis, co-owner of Kariwak Village Holistic Haven and Hotel, Scarborough, said the Plymouth Jazz Festival generated a whole lot of business for everyone across Tobago. He said January was “already negative,” and that the occupancy rate at his 24-room eco-type hotel was at 60 per cent. “That is a loss for us,” he said.

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