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  • For the second time in one week I am having the pleasure of officially launching a music event, albeit it different genres.  On Tuesday morning, I addressed the entertainment fraternity at the launch of the 1st Annual One World Ska & Music Festival and today I have the honour of endorsing the Come Celebrate Jesus Gospel Concert, held every October right here in our beautiful city of Montego Bay.
  • What is wonderful about Come Celebrate Jesus is that it spans two of the world’s fastest growing travel niches – Religious Tourism, also known as Faith Based Tourism, and Music Tourism.
  • These rapidly growing niche segments hold great potential for attracting thousands of visitors to our island.  Jamaica has a great deal to offer both the religious traveler and those who travel to enjoy our music and we stand ready to become a major player in these multi-million dollar travel segments.
  • he modern faith-based traveller comprises not only those interested in excursions to traditional holy sites, such as Lourdes, Jerusalem and Mecca. Today religious travel includes a diverse range of sub-niches such as the modern pilgrimage market, conferences and events, humanitarian trips and festivals that promote gospel and spiritual music.
  • It is on the latter – music and music festivals – that I wish to focus this morning because Jamaica has such a strong music tradition. Our music is one of our most valuable cultural assets.  We are a small island with a unique sound that has had a big impact internationally; captivating the hearts and minds of millions the world over.  
  • Well planned and successful music festivals are a great way to diversify our tourism product and are a major source of income at the national and community levels.  They create jobs, generate revenue, benefit hotels and cause a ripple effect to tourist businesses. 
  • Music is a global language. As we continue to diversify our tourism product, we want to use our music – our reggae, our dancehall, our Gospel – to play a bigger role in attracting visitors to the island. 
  • Our music is big abroad and we intend to leverage our competitive advantage in the international arena to entice visitors to Jamaica to enjoy our music as well as the other attractions that our island has to offer.
  • Attending a multi-day music festival has become almost a rite of passage for the millennial generation. According to a recent Nielson Report, a staggering 32 million people attended at least one music festival in the United States each year.  Half of these were millennials. One third of this 32 million attended more than one festival. The report also noted that the average festival attendee traveled 903 miles to attend a festival.
  • Think about it; the United States is right at our doorstep.  It is our largest source market for stop over visitors. These are numbers that we cannot continue to ignore and we must find a way to tap into this music festival market.  Music festivals are obviously big business.
  • Globally tourism is one of the key drivers of economic growth and employment.  However, we must always remember that tourism is a fiercely dynamic and highly competitive industry and destinations like Jamaica must remain relevant and have a clear strategy for enhancing their product to stay ahead of the game.
  • With this in mind, we are repositioning our tourism sector to better integrate it with multiple sectors. These include Sports and Entertainment, Gastronomy, Health and Wellness, Shopping, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Knowledge, as we move away from the traditional view of tourism as sun, sea and sand and focus our efforts on diversifying our product to increase visitor numbers.
  • Jamaica then, in seeking to get a significant slice of the music festival market as part of our drive to attract five million visitors and generate earnings of US$5 billion over the next five years.
  • For Jamaica’s tourism, we will continue to use events such as ‘Come Celebrate Jesus’ and others, to stimulate and spike visitor arrivals and the accompanying economic activities, on and off season.
  • Jamaica is a natural for an enhanced entertainment tourism product. We need to get it right. I have mandated the newly formed Sports and Entertainment Network, which is chaired by entertainment producer and promoter Kamal Bankay, to lead this important initiative. 
  • We are working closely with my colleague Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and her team, as well as with committed private sector partners, to ensure that we provide the framework in which both the music and tourism sectors can continue to thrive.
  • Some of these strategies include:
    • Upgrading venues
    • Coordination of established activities/events for the Tourism Calendar
    • Promotion of Jamaica as an entertainment destination
    • Greater collaboration with event promoters and venue managers to package and promote local music events, festivals and live shows
  • I commend Donald Brooks and his team at BA&D Gospel Productions for their great work in organizing this annual celebration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music and praise.  Come Celebrate Jesus is a great family event and it adds a broader dimension to Jamaica’s entertainment offerings.
  • Gospel is one of the fastest growing music genres in the Caribbean and Reggae Gospel – which mixes reggae rhythms with Christianity-themed lyrics – offers a uniquely Jamaican dimension to this music genre that is being embraced by both Christian and secular listeners.
  • Pioneer artistes such as Papa San, Lieutenant Stitchie, Carlene Davis, and Junior Tucker as well as newer artistes like Goddy Goddy, DJ Nicholas, Kevin Downswell and Judith Gayle – to name a few – have all helped put Reggae Gospel on the map.
  • I wish you a wonderful and successful concert.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to officially launch Come Celebrate Jesus 2016.

Thank you.