Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced a 3.4 per cent increase in visitor arrivals for the month of January, compared with the same period last year.Bartlett said the 138,000 tourists who visited the island last month were the largest number of visitors to vacation in Jamaica in the month of January... in any year.The minister was addressing journalists during a press conference at the Ministry of Tourism on Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston on Wednesday.Bartlett credited the growth to the staging of the annual JAMAICA Jazz and Blues Festival held last month, as well as the intense advertising, marketing and promotion campaign that the ministry had embarked on in recent months, especially for the start of the winter tourist season.
Bahamas News Center, my emphasis
This is no surprise at all. All studies about the creative industries, festivals, cultural activity and tourist development indicate that a failsure way of driving tourists to a destination is by creating a purpose for them to visit. Angela Cleare calls it the "pull" factor in tourism -- giving people a reason to visit. The Bahamas has for decades relied on "push" factors -- the need/desire for North Americans to escape the cold. Our tax money has not been used to develop any real reason for tourists to come here. Instead we have been lazy, relying on foreign investors, on natural beauty, and on geographical closeness to profit by default.The above news story shows the result. But a word of caution to those government officials who think that they can develop such festivals without the participation and buy-in of the cultural community: you can't. The Atlantis model isn't sustainable. Our greatest strengths, and our greatest draws, are those things that can't be found anywhere else. Without the people who know this stuff, who can tell it from the ersatz and the fake, all attempts to duplicate the above success will fail.See, people? I'm not making this stuff up. Studies show that culture is a major driver of the 21st century economy. And we have not invested in it at all.Further links of interest may be found below for those who are willing to do the research. The numbers say it all.
- CRNM Study on Cultural Industries in the Caribbean (PDF full report, revised December 2007)
- UNCTAD Report on Global Creative Industries (PDF full report, 2008)
- New Strategic Plan for CARIFESTA (PDF full report, Nurse, 2004)
- CARIFESTA Strategic Plan (PPT presentation, Nurse, 2004)
- Mapping the Cultural Industries in the Caribbean (PDF presentation)
- The Cultural Industries in the Caribbean (PDF presentation)
- UNCTAD press release on the creative industries (html document)
- The creative industries and development (PDF document)
- The role of creative industries in the global economy (html document)
Let's work together to turn our economy around in The Bahamas -- the twenty-first century way. No more development by plantation, thanks very much; let's take the wheel and drive our leaders where we want to go.