Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett sees Reggae Marathon as a “real winner” for the country’s tourism product, noting that the annual event can one day become as big as the New York Marathon.

Now in its 18th year, the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k is set for Sunday, December 2, and will see participants from all over the world flock to Negril for one of the most unique marathons on the international calendar.

“We think that we have found a real winner in Reggae Marathon. It can become as big as the New York Marathon in time and in that context more visitors will be coming to the island, and with a higher spend,” Bartlett said.

The annual New York Marathon attracts more than 50,000 people each year to that northeast US city.

Bartlett reasons that the Reggae Marathon will further take off as a result of the changing interests of global travelers, looking to partake in not just health tourism but social good.

“The millennials, the new mega demographic that is emerging in global tourism is very driven by activities such as this, the whole business of health and wellness and those who want to retain a relationships with people of like minds,” Bartlett said. “Of course people are involved for social good, because the proceeds go to improve communities, to help indigent, to help treat the sick and for welfare support.”

The tourism minister also hailed the event for its valued addition to the offerings of the visitor in destination Jamaica.

“It has been responsible for filling out a number of room in particularly the Negril area, where it has been nestled for the number of years and each occasion, it has increased in the number of room nights and the actual spend in the area,” Bartlett noted.

Kevin Levee, Chapter Chairman of the Negril Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) agreed, noting that the marathon is known to boost the arrivals in the area, during a generally slow season.

“Historically in the past, the first weekend in December has been a slow period so there’s a significant amount of business into Negril,” Levee said.

According to Levee, the impact from the marathon filters through the entire Negril economy.

“The Reggae Marathon benefits all industries in Negril, the hotels, – big and small, the shops the vendors, the restaurants, the Airbnb,” Levee said.

Tourism minister Bartlett lauded the Reggae Marathon organisers for consistently contributing to the sector.

“I really want to commend the organisers, who have done such a marvelous job with the products over the years. We want to see it grow, the Jamaica Tourist board and Tourism Ministry continues to give support to it,” Bartlett said.

The 2017 marathon had over 2,200 participants from 41 countries, 1,200 of the participants were from overseas, so it was almost a 50/50 split between local and overseas entrants, according to Levee.

In addition to the marathon, the event also features a half marathon and a 10k, with the JHTA chapter chairman noting that the event has also helped to increase tourism numbers.

“Those (earlier stated numbers) are just the people who entered the marathon, because there’s a 10k, there’s a 5k, so I figure that some of those persons came with someone, so that would double up those numbers”, Levee said.

Published by Loop News