Mer­cury de­liv­ered three days of bet­ter days!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

Mer­cury Beach was never ad­ver­tised as a church event. What clearly was promised by the pro­mot­ers of the beach fest was more of what last year’s event de­liv­ered: fun-lov­ing men and women of all shapes and sizes, in cre­ative out­fits that were never de­signed for in­tel­lec­tual or spir­i­tual stim­u­la­tion. Hours of non­stop fun for less than the price of a traf­fic ticket.

By re­li­able ac­count Mer­cury Beach 2015 proved another re­sound­ing suc­cess, on many fronts. Sev­eral ho­tels and guest houses in the north of the is­land were fully booked, thanks to the more than seven thou­sand beach-lov­ing sybarites who came here for the event from Mar­tinique and Guade­loupe.

The wind­fall for ven­dors at Gros Islet Fri­day night doubt­less had MP Emma Hip­plyte giv­ing thanks to the Lord. Or so it is ru­moured. Even with loads of lambi, lob­ster and other va­ri­eties of seafood brought from other parts of the is­land, the sup­ply still fell far short of the de­mand. For grill and taxi op­er­a­tors bet­ter days cer­tainly ar­rived on Fri­day evening.

Then on Satur­day, ahead of the main event, hun­dreds of French visi­tors took time out to shop in the city and at the Rod­ney Bay shop­ping mall. As for the main event, Mer­cury Beach, it at­tracted to the Pi­geon Is­land Cause­way (Mat­alon Cause­way?) well over a thou­sand lo­cals who could not wait to prove they could “par­tay” as hard as the fun seek­ers from their French sis­ter is­lands. And with­out in­ci­dent.

Mar­itime con­sul­tant in the Min­istry of Tourism, Cuth­bert Di­dier, who worked closely with the or­ga­niz­ers, re­ported that at one point on Satur­day there were close to 9,000 peo­ple at Mer­cury Beach 2015. The event also at­tracted fans from Trinidad and Bar­ba­dos as well as re­gional media groups.

“The lo­ca­tion was not the first op­tion,” Di­dier told the STAR. “We were orig­i­nally sup­posed to be at The Land­ings but that fell through. In any case, The Land­ings venue could not have ac­com­mo­dated the au­di­ence at the event this around. We would have pre­ferred not to be boarded up but fi­nally the board­ing up and graf­fiti added a spe­cial am­bi­ence.”

By Di­dier’s mea­sure, there could have been a bet­ter re­sponse from the pri­vate sec­tor. Too many wanted to con­trib­ute only in kind, not cash. This year’s spon­sors were the Saint Lu­cia Tourist Board, Heineken, Peter & Com­pany and Saint Lu­cia Dis­tillers.

As for claims Mar­tinique had re­jected Mer­cury Beach, Di­dier said, “For the past two years the Mar­tinique Tourism Bureau has been en­gag­ing the French or­ga­niz­ers to bring back the event and of­fer­ing to pay to host it in Mar­tinique. Af­ter the last Mer­cury Beach held there, a mayor ex­pressed cer­tain con­cerns re­lated to an in­ci­dent. Based on that the or­ga­niz­ers took the show to Saint Lu­cia.”

Ac­cord­ing to Di­dier, from all ac­counts the French visi­tors who are fol­low­ers of Mer­cury Beach have in­formed the or­ga­niz­ers to keep the event here. “Lucky for Saint Lu­cia, the fans fol­lowed the beach fest to the Cause­way.”

He added: “Right now the mer­chants in the north and in the city need to cre­ate in­cen­tives for per­sons to shop more while they are here and the author­i­ties need to cre­ate more at­trac­tions around the event so that the visi­tors would have good rea­son to ex­tend their stay.” Di­dier sug­gested that Gros Islet, along with cor­po­rate en­ti­ties, be­come part­ners in the event by cre­at­ing a vil­lage at­mos­phere for the visi­tors.

Mer­cury Beach fea­tured live per­for­mances by lo­cal and re­gional per­form­ers in­clud­ing Michael Robin­son, Ricky T and Q-Pid as well as Mr. Killa from Gre­nada. Pa­trons par­tied on an­chored boats and on the seashore, in foam and on the sand. Di­dier es­ti­mates that the French visi­tors spent an av­er­age of fif­teen hun­dred Eu­ros per day (over an av­er­age three-day pe­riod) while on is­land. The Saint Lu­cia Tourist Board, that this year signed a three-year-deal with or­ga­niz­ers, is tab­u­lat­ing the fi­nan­cial re­turns on its in­vest­ment and is ex­pected to soon re­veal its find­ings.

From any an­gle Mer­cury Beach 2015 was

a re­sound­ing suc­cess!

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