Image International Music Festival Returns to Portland

While Portland has long been celebrated for its breath-taking natural wonders, the parish is quickly establishing itself as more than just an eco-tourism haven. Businessman and Event Promoter, Andre Lee-Chin, is on a quest to ingnite the entertainment scene in the capital town, Port Antonio, with the 4th staging of his international music festival, Image, on March 31, 2024, catering to 1,000 locals and tourists while employing about 80 people from the parish.

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Other notable events held in the parish over the years are the Port Antonio Marlin Tournament, Portland Paradise Weekend, and Cinema Paradise – Portland Film Festival. Lee-Chin shared “with the rich cultural tapestry, culinary delights, and a thriving landscape, Portland is poised to add flair to Jamaica being known as the hottest destination in the Caribbean. This event was being conceived to improve the economic benefits of people relating to the entertainment field in Portland and spur others to host more large-scale events”.  Joining this stellar line-up is his upcoming day-to-night music festival which will feature a live performance by Dancehall artiste Ishawna. 

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Portland’s accessibility has received a boost with the expansion of the Ian Fleming International Airport in St. Mary. Opened in 2012 with the aim of attracting high-end tourism along the North Coast, the airport is now set to welcome two weekly international non-stop flights by American Airlines starting February 24, 2024. This development positions Port Antonio, only an hour and 46 minutes drive from the Ian Fleming International Airport, as a convenient and alluring destination for international travellers seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural vibrancy.

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President of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Daney-Ann Thomas, expressed the diversification of major events throughout the year, rather than concentrating them solely in the peak tourism season or summer, is warmly welcomed. “As development progresses, various types of businesses are poised to benefit. This includes accommodations such as small villas, medium, or large hotels, as well as local restaurants, eateries, tour guides for various attractions, drivers, and more”. 

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Deputy Opposition Spokesperson on Culture and Creative Industries, and Caretaker for the Portland Eastern constituency and Fellowship Division, Colin Bell, welcomes any initiative aimed at diversifying Portland’s appeal. “As a festival promoter in Portland, I advocate for the infusion of cultural events that can make a substantial contribution to the economic growth of the parish. Festivals serve as a vibrant expression of local culture, augment the livelihoods of the people and highlight the unique characteristics of the locations in which they are held. Supporting and allowing the festival ecosystem in Portland to flourish opens up numerous opportunities, and the ripple effects are far-reaching”. According to Mr. Bell, it is important that consideration be given to intellectual property linkages associated with festivals and events that can provide sustainable economic opportunities. These include clothing designs, music, recipes, films, and content for various media. “Additionally, ensuring that local MSMEs in the community be included in the economic opportunities is critical, to ensure that these events become catalysts for broader economic and creative development here in the parish,” he stated.

As the spotlight shifts to Portland, the Image – The International Music Festival stands as a testament to the parish’s commitment to offering a holistic experience to its visitors with this day-to-night food-inclusive event. Beyond the lush landscapes and pristine beaches, Portland’s cultural renaissance and vibrant entertainment scene are ready to captivate audiences and make the parish a must-visit destination on social calendars worldwide. March 31, 2024, marks not only a date for a music festival but a harmonious celebration of Portland’s ascent as a multifaceted gem in the Caribbean.