September 11, 2023
Local tourism industry stakeholders have joined the many persons globally paying tribute to late American singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who passed away on September 1 at age 76.
The significance of the sentiments resonating locally is grounded in the fact that Buffett’s hit Margaritaville was instrumental in the establishment of one of Jamaica’s and the Caribbean’s most popular attractions, named after the song.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is a United States-based hospitality company, founded in 1985, with locations in, among other countries, Canada, Mexico, and six Caribbean islands.
Buffett’s vision of Margaritaville as an oasis of relaxation and fun resonates with travellers from all walks of life.
In Jamaica, his legacy lives on through the continued success of Margaritaville, with outlets in Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios, and the thriving transport and tour operators who benefit from its appeal.
The attraction’s ability to draw visitors from local hotels and visiting cruise ships provides a vital boost to the tourism sector, contributing to job creation and revenue generation.
Several key interests, among them transport and tour operators, shop and plaza owners, as well as craft traders, have highlighted the substantial benefits accruing to them consequent on the numerous local and overseas guests who flock to and experience the laid-back atmosphere of Margaritaville.
Owner of the Taj Mahal Plaza in Ocho Rios, St Ann, Sanju Chatani, said that Margaritaville is one of the most recognisable brands globally.
When persons come to Jamaica, it is one of the must-see or must-visits places, right up there with Dunn’s River Falls. The taxi drivers especially can attest to this, as there are a lot of spin-offs for our business operators. Many times persons simply leave Margaritaville to end their day by doing some shopping and other activities,” he pointed out.
For his part, senior director of the Royal Shop chain of duty-free stores, which is headquartered in Montego Bay, Ravi Daswani, says tourism stakeholders and other business interests have long recognised the magnetism of Margaritaville.
He points out that its lively atmosphere, delicious food, refreshing beverages, live entertainment, and watersport activities make it a must-visit destination for many travellers.
“It’s a given that its popularity has translated into significant benefits for transport providers and tour operators who cater to the influx of visitors. The island’s taxi drivers, bus operators, and private transportation services have witnessed a surge in demand for rides to Margaritaville from hotels, resorts, and cruise ship ports,” said Daswani.
“These operators have embraced the opportunity to showcase Jamaica’s natural beauty, culture, and warm hospitality during the journey to the attraction. Jimmy Buffett will forever be remembered for doing his part,” he adds.
Businessman Brian Jardim, a very good friend of Buffett, and who along with Ian Dear were the early architects of the Margaritaville Caribbean revolution, added that, “He was one of the good guys… gone too soon.”
Dear, who is the managing director and Margaritaville Caribbean co-founder, described his association with Buffett as “an amazing 26-year journey of positive, deep friendship and partnership”.
“He genuinely loved Jamaica and the Caribbean as a whole. Very few could define it as he could,” he added.
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