Jamaica’s Tourism Ministry is urging private investors to take over the already successful Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival (JBMCF) and develop it into a major international event that will attract thousands of visitors.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett made the disclosure while giving the keynote address during the launch of the festival’s sixth annual staging at Devon House. The event will be held at Newcastle on March 25.
He said the team within the ministry and its public bodies had carefully examined the concept of the festival and its potential for growth and earnings.
“I am challenging the investors to come on board now to invest in the coffee festival. We will market it through the Jamaica Tourist Board on our platform,” said the minister. “We could be bringing thousands upon thousands of people annually for this coffee festival, and that’s what I want to see.”
Bartlett noted that while there are benefits of private sector investment, he was also prepared to look beyond Jamaica’s borders.
“If we can’t get local investment you know I’m going to go look investment because this festival must not be a simple event that we host every year; it must be an international event that brings thousands of people here and provide income and revenue for the country and the well-being of our people,” he said,
The JBMCF was conceptualised in 2018 as a key initiative of the Gastronomy Network of the Tourism Linkages Network, a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). With support from public and private sector partners the festival has become a highly anticipated event on the local calendar.
Bartlett pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism has invested about $100 million in the festival to date and this year has earmarked another $25 million for the event. The festival was truncated over the last two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re coming back with a bang this year; stronger, better, more exciting, more alluring and a more all-embracing coffee festival,” declared Bartlett.
Coffee is said to be the second most consumed liquid globally, surpassed only by water, with the Jamaican brand enjoying pride of place among world brands.
“If we really tap into the value chain of coffee, we could create an entire economy around the product, and perhaps that’s an ambition that we should work towards,” said Bartlett.
Players in the agriculture sector are among critical partners in the coffee festival and during the launch Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jnr underscored that “this partnership is very important.”
He welcomed the range of valued-added products being produced by young farmers with coffee and the move to create even more by infusing coffee into meals.
“There’s an exciting opportunity to have the intrinsic taste profile that is loved by so many discriminating connoisseurs across the world,” said Charles Jr.
He stressed that there is a global market for Jamaicans to tap into, “not just to contribute to our gross domestic product but to contribute to the lives of our farmers.”
Among stakeholders participating in the coffee festival launch were Chairman of the Gastronomy Network, Nicola Madden-Greig; Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator Aubyn Hill; Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural, Juliet Holness; and Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Japan, Ken Nakamura.