By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 1st February 2019)- Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant has expressed concern that the availability of rooms to accommodate overseas visitors during the upcoming 23rd annual St.Kitts Music Festival in June could be an issue.
To this end, small business owners and home owners are being encouraged to prepare their facilities.
“Our challenge, I believe is going to be one of accommodation because last year, we had full-time house. I think all the hotels were generally full and if they were full last year, I believe with Buju’s announcement coming to the St.Kitts Music Festival, we’re going to have a little issue.”
Grant made the disclosure during an interview with reporters following a press conference held on the morning of Monday 28th January at the Ocean Terrance Inn (OTI) at Fortlands whereby twenty- one (21) additional acts were announced in completing the 2019 roster of the well-anticipated yearly extravaganza.
The added national, regional and international entertainers combined are: Charly Black, Melanin (Kittitian female trio), Omari Banks, I-Mark, Cocoa Tea, Infamus, La Insuperable, Rucas HE, Mapy (The Violin Queen), Akaii, Shal Marshall, 5 Star Akil, Ras Vally, Farmer Nappy, Nadia Batson, Nu Vybes Band, Skinny Fabulous, Fimba, Small Axe Band (reigning Sugar Mas Road March Champions), Edwin Yearwood and Krosfyah and also Ella Mai.
At a media briefing held in early December last year, Davido, Smokey Robinson, Popcaan and French Montana were part of the first wave of artistes to be unveiled while Buju Banton was announced at Cooler Fete later on that month.
Festival Chairman Damion Hobson, during his remarks at this week’s press conference, issued a call to small business owners and home owners to prepare to accommodate visitors.
“The demands for tickets and hotel accommodation has already started. We encourage everyone overseas to contact their hotel of choice now to make their bookings. We also encourage owners of small inns and private home to get involved to make their facility available because the arrivals from overseas will be high,” he said.
Asked by this reporter about that type of ‘Air B & B (Bread and Breakfast)’ accommodation type of appeal, the Tourism Minister had this to say: “We anticipate because the pressure is going to be on accommodation, we anticipate that we’re going to need them so we’re getting people geared up mentally to understand that there is going to be a need to fill so as you’ve just said business is going to be like Air B & B situations where people rent out their rooms, their houses, their villas (or) whatever it is so we’re hoping that once people hear, they get ready and we won’t have an issue in that regard.”
Notably, two hotel development started under the previous government is expected to provide additional rooms just in time of the festivity.
“However, I know Koi Hotel is bringing 101 rooms on line in April of this year so we’re going to have an additional 101 rooms and the T-Loft is going to bring 200 rooms on stream in May. So hopefully by the time the Music Festival rolls around, we’ll have 300 additional rooms on stream and that may help. In any event, I think that we’re going to struggle in terms of accommodation.”
Grant said: “Presently, we have about 1,100 rooms. Over the next 24 months, we expect to bring on about 500 so we are expecting to have at least 1500 rooms…so we’re still relatively young in terms of rooms and you must understand that 196 rooms are being pulled out of the system because of Four Seasons…so we have our challenges but we don’t want to grow the economy too much in terms of the number so we are growing the number of rooms steadily.”
The three-nightly concert will be held from Thursday 26th to Saturday 29th June at the Kim Collins Athletic Stadium located in Bird Rock.
According to Chairman of the Artiste Selection Committee Jonel Powell, who made the announcement presentation, the 2019 line-up will “satisfy everybody” and will make the yearly event “the biggest” while Chairman Hobson is of the view that: “This St.Kitts Music Festival is going to be epic.”