$759-million boost from Reggae Sumfest

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sumfest-2016.jpgReggae Sumfest is expected to provide a US$6 million ($750million) shot in the arm to the economy of Montego Bay and its environs when the curtain goes up on this year's festival.

Created as a vehicle for stimulating tourism during the slow summer months, Reggae Sumfest provides a huge fillip for the greater Montego Bay economy, says Robert Russell, former chairman of Summerfest Productions Ltd.

"Sumfest annually attracts 4,000 visitors to Montego Bay; the JTB says that they typically spend US$1,500 each. A lot of people depend on the festival to send their children back to school in September. The hotels, rental cars, taxis, craft vendors... everybody looks to Sumfest as it's a big economic boost for Montego Bay and by extension, Jamaica," Russell said.

The festival, which is part sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board, is scheduled for Catherine Hall in Montego Bay, St James, on July 17-23, 2016.

Gloria Henry, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, agrees that Sumfest provides an essential economic jolt for the economy.

"Hotels are filled, restaurants, food services, bars and car rental companies do great business. The impact is far-reaching and apart from the fiscal benefits, the festival is a great calendar event marketed locally and overseas, which helps to promote Montego Bay as a great place to do business," she said.

Sumfest's best-attended night was consistently its Thursday Dancehall Night featuring almost 30 local dancehall deejays and drawing 12,000 plus patrons. Traditionally, at least 20,000 patrons attend the festival over three nights.

"From the days of Sunsplash, this period has traditionally been very important to Montego Bay because we are coming out of the tourist season at the end of April. Sumfest provides a boost that keeps the hotels operational by filling rooms for a week or two," Robin Russell, general manager of Deja Resorts, said.

"The influx of visitors from Kingston and overseas injects capital in a variety of industries from arts and crafts to rent-a-cars to restaurants so Sumfest is a great vehicle to stimulate the economy."