Event Uses Too Much of STLB’s Resources
A policy decision will soon be made on whether to keep the St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival under the auspices of the St. Lucia Tourist Board or pass it on to another entity.
The festival, which is said to be one of the best in the Caribbean and at one time one of the top five in the world, has become something of a behemoth to the Tourist Board, which now wants to off-load it onto another body.
Ironically, it is the sheer success of the festival that is causing problems for the Tourist Board, which is calling for a policy decision from government in determining a new home for the festival.
Agnes Francis, Chairperson of the Board, said the Board loses out in delivering what it was set up to do, which is marketing the country, for about four or five months of the year due to planning and staging the festival.
“The Board has asked the government to take a policy decision on it (festival). They need to be aware of the impact it is having on the Tourist Board and its ability to do its job,” Francis said, adding that the entire operations of the Tourist Board’s evolves around the Jazz Festival at a certain point in the year.
“From around March to June/July the entire focus of the Board and its resources are on the Jazz Festival. We are anticipating that the government makes a decision on how the Jazz Festival can be managed because it is really taking away a lot of resources, both financial and human, from the marketing which the Tourist Board needs to do,” Francis said.
Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee, seems to be thinking along similar lines, by stating that the festival had lost its “potency”, which “it once had as a marketing tool.”
The Tourist Board, Fedee said, is the primary marketing arm of the country and as such has to see how to make the best use of its resources to perform its core role as a marketing entity.
“Whether the Tourist Board should be the lead to organize and drive the festival, that’s a conversation we’re having now. It has become a challenge for the Tourist Board to focus on maximizing its core function, which is marketing, and at the same time drive and organize the Jazz Festival,” Fedee said.
Francis emphasized this by stating that the Tourist Board becomes a production company whenever it organizes and manages the Festival. This, she said, removes the Board’s focus on marketing during that time and places it on the Festival’s production.
There has been talk in the past of establishing a Festival Commission to handle national events like carnival, the jazz and arts festival and other festivals of national importance. These talks have virtually died.However Fedee, hinted that the establishment of such a commission may still be on the cards.