Dream tourism boost

Dream tourism boost

Approximately 10,000 visitors are expected in Jamaica for the popular Appleton Special Dream Weekend, which organisers yesterday said was costing more than $200 million to stage in the tourist resort town of Negril

The visitor numbers represent a 10 per cent increase on last year and a significant growth since the inception of the event in 2009 when the ratio of locals to visitors hovered around 80 per cent locals to 20 per cent visitors.

Dream Entertainment Managing Director Scott Dunn, Marketing Director Ron Burke, and Public Relations Director Kamal Bankay shared the figures at yesterday’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, pointing out that the event gives the country a considerable economic boost.

According to Dunn, a sizeable chunk of the budget goes into the preparations to stage the five-day, nine-event party festival scheduled for July 28 to August 1.

The festival will see more than 20,000 partygoers, primarily from Jamaica, the United States, Canada, the UK, and the wider Caribbean, forking out as much as $28,000 for a season pass to all the events.

“Our biggest spend overall is executing the events, which is a wide range of stuff. From sound systems, lighting, logistics, and accommodation for our team. Most of our team is based in Kingston, and having them in Negril takes a lot,” Dunn noted.

He further explained that, while the expertise and opportunities exist to take the Dream Weekend concept on the road to neighbouring Caribbean islands, it is the mandate of his organisation to build entertainment tourism here in Jamaica.

“Building Jamaica and developing more festivals in Jamaica is really priority number one. We have a brand that we can replicate in other places, so Dream Weekend could be done in another island to a similar scale, especially when you consider that half of our guests come in from outside of Jamaica. So, for example, if we were to do Dream Weekend in The Bahamas, the 10,000 people who would come here we would expect that we should be able to hit similar numbers going to another island,” said Dunn.

He used the opportunity to call for more support from the Jamaica Tourist Board.

“As much as we are thankful for the support we have received from the Jamaica Tourist Board, other islands tend to be more welcoming in terms of the level of support they are willing to give to an event like this,” he said. “A bigger percentage of our costs would be underwritten if we were doing it in another island. For example, the jazz festivals staged in the Eastern Caribbean, that is predominantly government money that is funding those events.

“For us it is a very small percentage of our overall budget that the tourist board covers. From that standpoint it might be an easier environment for us as a business. But we are Jamaicans and live here, so our priority is to build what we have here and other festivals,” he said.

He backed up his call for more assistance with figures released by the tourist board which showed inflows valued at close to $1.5 billion resulting from the five-day event.

“The tourist board estimates that the average patron that we have spends on average $28,000 per day. Multiply that by 10,000 and you have $280 million a day, and this is conservative, and it is over at least five days that this comes into the Negril community,” Dunn said.

“Only a small percentage goes into ticket prices. The lump sum goes into accommodation and restaurants. So really, the hotels in Negril benefit a lot more than we who actually bring in the patrons. There are no cheap rooms in Negril at this time,” Dunn added.

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