While the summer fiesta is about fun and entertainment, it also has great economic value to the 45,000 citizens of the island and also the sister island of Nevis, which lies to the south, across the two mile Narrows.
The birth of the festival in 1996 was driven mainly by economic factors that were characterized by very low occupancy levels in local hotels and a reduction in overall business activity on the island.
The main objectives therefore were designed to increase visitor arrivals; improve hotel occupancies; stimulate greater economic activity across all commercial sectors; create greater international awareness for the destination as a viable option for visitors; while also producing a world class entertainment event attractive and appealing to Kittitians/Nevisians and tourists.
But there were two other objectives. The organizers were determined to use the festival as a platform to roll out Kittitian talent and to also expose local performers to visiting artistes, promoters and tourists.
Two decades after, there is no doubt that the festival has enhanced the tourism product and strategically positioned St. Kitts as a major tourism destination.
The results of several Economic Impact Assessment Surveys carried out for the St Kitts Music Festival, supports the already established view that the festival provides tremendous returns to the economy in the month of June, which traditionally was known as the difficult period for the hospitality sector.
The spin-offs generated by the St. Kitts Music Festival testify to the insight and genius of those who pioneered the path to its genesis! And yet, the Festival almost did not materialize.
From the beginning, it was a dream that first toyed with the idea of a Jazz Festival; but those early flirtations with Jazz, soon evolved into what became four nights of world class entertainment. The model applied created dedicated theme nights of Soca/Calypso, Reggae, R&B and Gospel.
It was this musical versatility that immediately branded the St. Kitts Music Festival as a unique template to emulate, and over the two decades other Caribbean nations have followed in the footsteps, moving away from an exclusive orientation, to a more diverse repertoire.
Over the years we have seen some of the world’s greatest entertainers on show in St. Kitts, reflecting all genres, and including and so many sweet sounds of the international language known as music.