Junkanoo Summer Festival success for more exposure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

By LINDSAY THOMPSON

BAHAMAS INFORMATION SERVICES

Nassau, The Bahamas – Minister of Tourism the Hon Obie Wilchcombe has touted the success of the Junkanoo Summer Festival held during the month of July 2014.

Against the backdrop of the 50th Anniversary of  Tourism in the country, the festival was held each weekend in July, which showcased the best in Junkanoo talent, music from uniform groups and the Urban Renewal Marching Band, food, and arts and craft items before crowds of thousands.

“The Bahamas is renowned for its tourism, but they are talking about the hospitality, they are talking about its service and the beauty of this country. So if we work collectively to ensure that we deliver the best product, they can understand how effective and how important it is to our economy,” Mr. Wilchcombe said.

He made the observation following the “Tourism is Everybody’s Business Rush”,  Friday, July 25, during which staff of the Ministry of Tourism, corporate sponsors and uniformed groups paraded in downtown.

“It’s a team effort and the message is very sound and the message is very clear; that Tourism is everybody’s business. And all of us whether you are a minister or work in one of the sections like sports, religious or domestic; the truth is that we are all equal and we all ought to deliver quality service,” Mr. Wilchcombe said.

Although The Bahamas is renowned for its tourism, he said visitors are talking about the hospitality, its service and the beauty of this country.

And, based on feedback from local and visitors on the Junkanoo Summer Festival Mr Wilchcombe said: “ We need to have much more.  We need to have many more activities particularly on the weekend. We’ve seen the tourists flock in and many more people want to see Junkanoo. They hear about, they’ve talked about it, they’ve voted on it and the truth is they don’t get to see it.

“So, the more things we get to do, the more creativity we can apply. I think it is going to be better for us going forward.”

Mr. Wilchcombe envisions that for the calendar year, the ministry proposes to have several major events per month “so that there will there be no dull moments and that it will always incorporate our culture.”

Charity Armbrister, Director of Events at the Ministry of Tourism said the festival was great, even through there was a cancellation of Saturday, July 19 due to inclement weather.

She noted the “Tourism Is Everybody’s Business Rush” was a huge parade with the amount of participants on the Friday; followed by the float parade on Saturday incorporating the contestants of the Miss Bahamas Universe and Miss World contestants.

 “Next year hopes to be grand with some tweaking but we got a lot of positive feedback,” she said.

One of the main corporate sponsors, Atlantis was proud and pleased to be a part of the month of activities, especially the rush out.

Tameka Forbes, Vice President of Labour at Atlantis, said it is important for Atlantis to partner with and proudly celebrate 50 years of Tourism with the ministry.

 “It is important for Atlantis to partner with the Ministry of Tourism at these events to show that we are our proud of our Bahamian culture and to show that we are proud members of the great Commonwealth of The Bahamas and that we are proud Atlantis employees celebrating 20 years in The Bahamas,” she said.

A tourist from The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, was excited to be among the crowd enjoying the Junkanoo festival.

 “The groups are different. I have never seen this, even in Portugal. It’s a lot of fun and the people have a lot of spirit. I am enjoying it,” he said.

Bahamian Raquel Bethel along with her husband said:  “It’s a wonderful place to come, to relax and enjoy some great Bahamian music and Junkanoo.  I like it because it should be less competitive and more relaxed. It’s a nice casual and a great place to come downtown and enjoy your culture.”

Another visitor an African married to an American and lives in Missouri, USA, said the music reminded him of his birth homeland.

“We are having a wonderful time it is very beautiful and very interesting,” he said.

Bahamian Elbert Thompson said it was wonderful to see the Urban Renewal Marching Band and enjoying young people coming together for such an activity.

“It’s just enough Junkanoo for me, right in the middle of the year. It gets us ready for the two main Junkanoo parades – Boxing Day and New Year’s Day,” he said.

With the Ministry of Tourism celebrating 50 years, Mr. Thompson said it was an awesome time to reflect on what we have done as a country in terms of tourism.

“I think we have had some major strides in improvements in tourism – the world still comes to us and the Caribbean to learn about how we have improved our product. But of course there are always ways for improvement in terms of preserving our environment,” he said.

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Captions:

The Ministry of Tourism celebrating 50 years of Tourism, participated in the Junkanoo Summer Festival “Tourism is Everybody’s Business Rush” on Friday, July 25, 2014, Downtown, Nassau. Pictured from left are Joy Jibrilu, Director General, Ministry of Tourism; Obie Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism; and Tommy Thompson, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)