OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA – Organizers of the Ocho Rios Seafood Festival have been challenged to grow the event into a gastronomy product that will attract visitors to the island.
Throwing out the challenge as he officially opened the festival on Emancipation Day (August 1), Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said, “The seafood festival is really a celebration of the cuisine of our people and it’s an important element of our culture that helps to define us.”
Minister Bartlett described the seafood offerings at the festival as “the making of a true gastronomy product, an element of our culture that will cause us to bring millions of people to Jamaica and make many of our people richer and better.”
He said Jamaica was unique in how it prepares seafood, peppered shrimp, curried chicken, goat and fish “and in building out that special offering we’re inviting the world to have a special taste of us” and having tasted Jamaican delicacies, they go back to their countries and spread the word of their experience.
The Tourism Minister said he envisaged the Ocho Rios Seafood Festival being replicated across the island as a product that is available consistently and not just an event staged once a year.
He pointed out that gastronomy was a big industry with US$150 billion spent on food every year and 88 percent of world travellers doing so for “food experiences.”
The Tourism Minister commended the organizers for bringing back the seafood festival to Ocho Rios and praised the highly choreographed dances presented by Hah-R-Mony Entertainment Production. However, he expressed a desire to see “more of our music being utilised at special attractions and also at major products that drive not only our own delight but also the delight of visitors and friends who come to our country.”