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Posted: Thursday 4 July, 2024 at 4:25 PM

Economic assessment to determine the future of the St. Kitts Music Festival

By: Jermine Abel,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - FOLLOWING three nights of pulsating entertainment, the government will now sit down and await the economic impact assessment of the 2024 St. Kitts Music Festival to determine the way forward for the mega event.


    Founded in 1996, the event has become a mainstay on the calendar of activities in the region, with several of its sister events folding over the years. The festival was only absent during the pandemic and has been seen as a major driver of economic activities during the slow summer season for the hotel and taxi industry in the Federation.


    Discussions about its sustainability are ongoing, and Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew pointed to its importance, from branding the country to its status as a prestigious event. The recognition the Federation has received from the presence of popular international artistes with large followings worldwide has been significant.


    During a media engagement with local, regional, and international media personnel at the just concluded 26th Edition of the Festival, the Prime Minister acknowledged the event's significant economic impact across the board.


    “That means more things are full, more people come to the destination, more hotels are full, more taxis are hired, more food has to be cooked,” Dr. Drew said.


    Tourism officials, including Minister Marsha Henderson, have reminded that the aim of the St. Kitts Music Festival has always been to drive traffic to the Federation during the off-season, when cruise tourism is low, and “get more heads in the beds at the hotels.”


    “So in a sense, it has a tremendous impact beyond what is obviously seen, which is the festival itself,” added Dr. Drew.


    However, it has been acknowledged that the mega event often does not break even. St. Kitts and Nevis is not alone in this; officials with the World Creole Festival have also noted that their event often does not break even, but they see returns through increased activities from visitors, spending, rental of vehicles, and room occupancies that offset that.


    In the Federation, there are calls for the event to be revamped to become profitable. Dr. Drew, who is also the Minister of Finance, noted that the economic impact study will be undertaken to identify necessary changes and improvements for broader benefits.


    “What is the real economic impact of any event that is had? One just cannot look at the event itself. As you can see, it's a premium event. But what impact is it having? And I think that economists and those who are in the financial world will know that,"Dr Drew stated. 


    Based on feedback provided by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Tourism, hoteliers have acknowledged near-capacity bookings for the period.


    “That is how you know whether it makes sense or not,” noted Dr. Drew.


    Concerns have been expressed about the lack of data available to the general public regarding the event's success or failure, which needs to be addressed.


    This year’s event saw performances from Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross, Adam O., Nadia Batson, and Asa Bantan.


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