Business

Olympic costs stump Jamaica Village project

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2012    

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ORGANISERS have cancelled the much hyped Jamaica Village project, aimed for this summer's Olympic Games in London.

The initiative hit a snag when promoters were unable to acquire the required financing for the venture, Jamaica Village Limited (JVL) chairman Clifton Cameron said yesterday.

"Despite having received significant support from the public and private sector, and the athletics community, the full extent of the financial commitments received has fallen short of the funding required to execute the attraction," Cameron said.

It is unclear how far JVL was short of its financial target, but Cameron told the The Jamaica Observer that the overall costs to finance the project was upwards of £5 million (690 million), including £1 million for security alone.

Bureaucratic challenges in England, where Jamaican business have encountered difficulties in the past, did not contribute to the discontinuation of the venture, he said.

"Operating an event in London at this time (during the Olympics) is particularly challenging, given the number of activities taking place this year," he said. "However, although challenging, this did not contribute to the cancellation of Jamaica Village 2012.

"With the help of our UK operating and legal team, JVL was able to secure all the relevant licences and approvals needed to conduct the event," he said.

Jamaica Village was intended to be a multi-dimensional entertainment complex at Finsbury Park, north London, from August 3 to August 12. It was marketed as a platform from which visitors from across the globe would experience the best of Jamaican culture, music, and cuisine, featuring performances by chart-topping artistes, food and drink from some of the island's premium brands, as well as its art and fashion.

The project was expected to be a hit for 'Brand Jamaica' as the country celebrated its 50th year of Independence during the Games, where Jamaican athletes, featuring the 'world's fastest man' Usain Bolt, are expected to perform exceptionally well.

"Jamaica Village is going to win even more fans for the country next summer," said Edmund Bartlett, the then minister of tourism, at the project's launch last year. "The team is driven to capture the energy that's here on the island. And when you match that with our excellent performances in sport, and the way in which our culture inspires people, we are thrilled that Jamaica Village will present the island to thousands of people in ways like never before."

In addition to promoting Brand Jamaica, the village was intended to inspire guests to visit Jamaica; to communicate that Jamaica is a great place to do business and to generate financial support for the development of youth athletic programmes.

Partners in the project included the Jamaica Tourist Board, Jampro, Jamaica Exporters Association, Jamaica Olympic Association and the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association.

"JVL wishes to note our appreciation to those who shared our vision of leveraging the country's athletic prowess to promote Brand Jamaica, and despite the absence of the Jamaica Village 2012, we wish for all our athletes a record-breaking Olympic performance," said Cameron.

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