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The Jamaican landscape features soaring mountain peaks, surging inland rivers and towering waterfalls not found in other destinations. Moreover, the island’s distinct music, culture, cuisine and history are equally fascinating and for visitors, easily accessible.
Jamaica offers “a diverse product that ticks the bucket list of world travelers,” said Donovan White, director of tourism. “Our food, music and culture are just a few of the things which have attracted millions of visitors to our shores.” Here are five reasons to visit Jamaica in 2019:
Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae music, and the nation’s cultural icons include the celebrated reggae singer and songwriter Bob Marley, whose legacy can be explored by visitors to Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.
Reggae music is one of the treasures of travel to Jamaica; visitors will hear its distinct rhythms and enchanting vocals in public areas, beachside restaurants and resorts around the island. The genre emerged in the late 1960s from Jamaican ska and rocksteady styles, also drawing influence from American jazz, soul and blues forms.
#DidYouKnow? Robert ‘Nesta’ Marley who was born on Feb 6, would have been 74 years old today! He is the most renown reggae lyricist and singer of all time, and certainly Jamaica’s most legendary reggae king. What’s your favourite lyric and song? (Graphics credit – @diGJamaica) pic.twitter.com/rn0G9nkIQX
With lyrics addressing sociopolitical issues, imprisonment and inequality, reggae is often recognized as expressing the views of the oppressed. Reggae also became associated with Rastafarianism, which deified Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie and promoted the sacramental use of marijuana.
Marley and his group the Wailers, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff were among the format’s first international stars; the music eventually influenced numerous artists and inspired genres including reggaeton, dub and dancehall.
Reggae gained a measure of international recognition in December when UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural and scientific agency, added the genre to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” deemed worthy of protection and promotion.
In a statement, UNESCO officials cited reggae music beginnings as “the voice of the marginalized.” From those roots the music is now “played and embraced by a wide cross-section of society, including various genders, ethnic and religious groups,” they said.
Reggae’s focus on “one love, togetherness and peace,” in the words Olivia Grange, Jamaica‘s culture minister, have contributed to “international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity,” said UNESCO’s statement.
Jamaica travelers utilizing Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport will find an exhibit commemorating the 40th anniversary of VP Records, the largest reggae label in the world, according to Jamaica Tourist Board officials.
“Our celebration of VP Records’ 40 years in America has coincided with the citation from UNESCO that Jamaican reggae music is an intangible cultural treasure,” said Patricia Chin, VP Records co-founder. “This exhibit represents our d heritage and some of the glorious achievements of reggae music.”
The exhibit will remain at the airport through June after which it will move to Kingston’s Norman Manley Airport. The exhibit, curated by Carter Van Pelt, VP Records‘ Director of Catalog Development consists of three separate displays featuring artifacts including vinyl records, platinum sales awards and images of artists including Beres Hammond, Garnett Silk, Lady Saw, Freddie McGregor and Dennis Brown.
Jamaica’s strong hotel development is extending into 2019, with a diverse array of new properties. The new resorts include the stylish 120-room S Hotel Jamaica, which debuted on January 27 on Montego Bay’s Doctor’s Cave Beach.
The “multi-experiential” EP hotel offers travelers a contemporary hotspot on Montego Bay’s downtown “Hip Strip,” with trendy bars, a high-spirited pool scene, and an exclusive Sky Deck for travelers booked in concierge accommodations.
The hotel also features an international restaurant, a café, spa, gym and guest accommodations featuring an “elevated design aesthetic,” among the Hip Strip’s new shops, restaurants and entertainment, said hotel officials.
“We’re creating a new kind of hotel in Montego Bay, one that infuses modern Jamaican culture balanced with the sophistication of an urban hotel and the laidback style of a beach resort,” said owner Chris Issa.
The luxury resort offers all-suite accommodations, a selection of upscale restaurants and bars, plus a full-service spa. The property is located along two miles of secluded white-sand beach and features beautiful sunsets and panoramic views of cruise ships sailing to and from the nearby Falmouth cruise port.
Several Jamaican districts will offer events that will draw visitors and residents alike for exciting cultural activities in 2019. The Jamaica Rum Festival takes place from March 8 to 10 in Kingston’s Hope Gardens section, with a comprehensive celebration of rum including three days of consumer workshops, samplings, food pairings, education and entertainment.
The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival is slated for March 1 to March 3, 2019, at Newcastle, St Andrew offer a “farm to cup” immersive experience providing insight into the rich tradition of coffee production in Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region. The Festival will feature coffee and coffee-related products, food booths, entertainment, cultural presentations, tastings and demonstrations and workshops.
Music lovers should not miss Bacchanal Jamaica, the headline event celebrating Jamaica’s annual carnival celebrations in 2019. Over an eight-week period in March and April, Bacchanal Jamaica will offer 15 fun, high-energy events featuring music, dance and food, culminating with the Road Parade on Sunday, April 28.
Jamaica’s idyllic natural landscape features several hidden gems lesser-known among travelers to the destination. Located off the coast of Port Antonio, Navy Island in Jamaica’s northeast corner was once owned by swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn. Visitors can take a short half-mile boat ride to the serenely beautiful island for picnics and trail hiking.
Positioned at the end of a coral reef off the coast of Portland, Monkey Island is within kayaking distance of San San Beach and can also be accessed via a walk through the water at low tide. Monkey Island contains no infrastructure, offering visitors a genuine white-sand beach escape amidst tropical jungle. Water sports lovers can dive and snorkel around the island’s clear blue waters all times of the year.
While visitors can find authentic Jamaican cuisine in restaurants, resorts and even roadside shacks and food trucks around the island, tourism officials are going beyond Jamaica’s borders to promote its distinctive cuisine to potential visitors.
In November, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) officials showcased the island’s flavorful cuisine at the 11th annual Toast of Brooklyn, Wine Food Festival held in Brooklyn, New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
Toast of Brooklyn is an annual event combining the distinctive, eclectic taste of Brooklyn’s culinary experience with wines and spirits from around the world. For this year’s event, organizers partnered with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to bring chefs from the Caribbean to highlight signature dishes.