Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (FP)??

This year’s eighth annual Digicel Barbados Reggae Festival will make a significant contribution to the Barbadian economy and the tourism industry, not only on the strength of the international artistes which will be featured, but because of the quality of local talent.

Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, emphasised this point at the launch of the Festival yesterday, which was held at the Mount Gay Visitors Centre, Spring Garden.

"It’s not only about the visitors that come here, it is about our local talent benefitting and I think it is wonderful when we can cite examples of where we see real value added locally …

"When we have the Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival, it’s nice to have the visitors, but it’s nice to see the local chefs also benefit?? and receive opportunities to travel abroad to hone their craft.?? And that is what it’s all about.?? And in that vein, I believe that it is really wonderful to see what the local night has become," Mr. Sealy said.

Officially called the Bajan Reggae Night, the event will feature dozens of local artistes including Azman, Fadda Fox, Lil Rick, Kirk Brown and the band Fully Loaded.?? The Tourism Minister noted that there had been reservations about the response to an all-local line up, when the concept was first introduced; but these concerns had been assuaged when Barbadians turned out in their numbers for the first Bajan Reggae Night at the Plantation Theatre.??

"The place was packed," Mr. Sealy said, "and it has been so successful now that they are going to a larger venue this year."

Minister Sealy lauded organisers Al Gilkes, Freddy Hill and their team for ensuring that Barbadian talent was highlighted, and said that he hoped the international attention garnered by the festival would see "some authentic benefit" for the artistes who would participate.?? He also thanked the sponsors for their continued support, especially during these trying financial times and noted that the tourism product was dependent on ensuring that there was never a dull moment on the island.

"One of the reputations that we are earning is that something is always happening in Barbados; and I don’t think one should underestimate the role these events play in terms of driving tourism numbers," he underlined.


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