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KINGSTON, Jamaica; March 26, 2018: Preliminary figures indicate that approximately 1100 patrons attended the inaugural staging of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival hosted by the Tourism Linkages Network of the Ministry of Tourism.
According to the Head of the Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald-Riley, the festival exceeded expectations, as the planning committee only anticipated that 750 persons would attend. She also noted they are still awaiting the final count from one of their ticket outlets, so the final figure should increase significantly as all tickets printed were completely sold out.
Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett noted that the massive success of the festival, which took place in the Blue Mountains over three days beginning on March 23, can be utilized in the future to attract more visitors to the shore and create more opportunities for Jamaicans to earn.
“If we bring in 4.3 million visitors to Jamaica and they are drinking Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, can you imagine the returns that will come to is? This festival is going to morph into an annual affair that will be a major pull for visitors across the world – 70 countries utilize coffee and it is the second most consumed beverage on earth – why can’t we bring a large group of those into Jamaica every year and fill out the hotel rooms in Kingston and build new opportunities in the Blue mountains for sustainable development,” said Minister Bartlett.
During his speech on the second day of the festival - The Marketplace Event at Newcastle, St. Andrew – he further noted that “Exhibitions like these are not only going to provide a showcase of coffee beverages but an opportunity for tasting and for the world to recognize in fact that we have the best coffee. It is also an opportunity for us to create a value chain to bring jobs and more economic well-being to a larger number of our Jamaican people.”
During the event, the Minister also used the opportunity to urge coffee processors and entrepreneurs to better utilize coffee to increase the earning potential.
“We in Jamaica seem to have locked ourselves into coffee export. But there are so many other applications and economic value that we can derive from the use of coffee in so many forms. There are numerous other applications such as physical equipment that can be made from coffee, such as coffee ties , pocket pieces, belts , mats, candles or essence,’’ he said.
The three-day event began with a special seminar for farmers on March 23, which included business development workshops for coffee industry players. It was hosted by the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
The event was also oversubscribed, with many farmers describing the event as informative and helpful for them to produce better crops in greater quantities.
The high-point of the gastronomic fare was the Festival Marketplace which featured samplings of coffee in various forms, food demonstrations, business workshops, exhibitors’ booths, live entertainment and a Barista competition, which was won by Lamar Williams of Café Blue.
On the final day of the festival, patrons were encouraged to visit eateries in the Blue Mountains, which were participating entities of the Tourism Ministry’s Culinary Trail. The restaurants and cafés created specialty menus and tours (where applicable).
Chair of the Gastronomy Network and conceptualizer of the event, Nicola Madden-Grieg shared that “I think people really enjoyed the fact that we did the festival in Newcastle – it elevated the event because it was not just about coffee, but about the attractions and being in the Blue Mountains. For the Culinary Trail we also noticed that all the restaurants were booked out.”