Mer­cury Fest Raised Week­end Heat­wave Tem­per­a­tures!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - ENTERTAINMENT - ---Clau­dia Elei­box

While con­grat­u­lat­ing each other with con­tin­u­ous clap­ping, mem­bers of the Saint Lu­cia Tourism Au­thor­ity, Epic Events and other en­ti­ties in­volved in the ex­e­cu­tion of Mer­cury Fest em­pha­sized on Wed­nes­day how proud it made ev­ery­one feel that the event was ex­clu­sively lo­cal.

Mer­cury Fest, on Au­gust 10-11, is the rein­car­na­tion of Mer­cury Beach, orig­i­nally a Mar­tini­quan event that was held in Saint Lu­cia for the last four years. When the pro­moter de­manded this year from the Saint Lu­cian govern­ment half a mil­lion dol­lars in spon­sor­ship, the lo­cal tourism au­thor­i­ties “knew we had to do some­thing”. With the sup­port of “the mo­tor be­hind ev­ery­thing”—Min­is­ter for Tourism Do­minic Fedee—and the for­ma­tion of Epic Events three months ago es­pe­cially for the in­au­gu­ral Mer­cury Fest, Tiffany Howard (cur­rently the act­ing chair­per­son of the SLHTA un­til Ni­cholas John takes his po­si­tion) an­nounced: “This has re­ally saved our sum­mer. All of the ho­tels, es­pe­cially the ones in the north, can tell you they were full for the en­tire week­end. But it wasn’t just a ho­tel win, it was a win across the is­land: the restau­rants, tours, at­trac­tions, ev­ery­one!”

Pre­lim­i­nary ac­counts from the SLTA, based on in­ter­views with arrivals, say a to­tal of 2,288 vis­ited with only Mer­cury Fest on their minds. The break­down in­cluded 114 from France and 111 from Do­minica. The ma­jor­ity, 2,020, came from across the north­ern chan­nel in Mar­tinique, de­spite Bac­cha­nal Fest be­ing hosted there at the same time as Mer­cury Fest. Ap­prox­i­mately 4,000 peo­ple at­tended the Pop­caan show on Satur­day. Nev­er­the­less, the SLTA ac­knowl­edged that in 2015 and 2016, the num­bers for Mer­cury Beach were higher.

For an in­vest­ment of $300,000 from the Saint Lu­cian govern­ment, Min­is­ter Fedee said, “The re­turn is phe­nom­e­nal for us.” That, while also ad­mit­ting there had never been a mech­a­nism by which to de­ter­mine re­turns on in­vest­ment. Or­gan­is­ers also in­sisted that apart from the Saint Lu­cia Ho­tel and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion, who in­vested $25,000 in Mer­cury Fest from the Tourism En­hance­ment Fund, Gros Islet ven­dors are re­ally the ones smil­ing all the way to the bank. Jacintha An­nius Lee, gen­eral man­ager of the Na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity, said ven­dors re­ported they had never had as many visi­tors at­tend­ing the leg­endary Gros Islet Street Party.

Added Lee: “For the first time we had a pro­moter tak­ing care of the beach. There was some neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity with re­spect to lit­ter but I can tes­tify that Epic Events took care of that in quick time.” More­over: “There was an event sub­se­quent to Mer­cury Fest and al­though the or­gan­is­ers did clean af­ter­ward, some peo­ple lin­gered and lit­tered the beach af­ter the cleanup.”

As for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture of Mer­cury Fest, an Epic Events spokesper­son said, “The plan next year is to not just fo­cus on the French ter­ri­to­ries but also on the wider Caribbean; Trinidad, St. Vin­cent, Bar­ba­dos. I think there is the po­ten­tial to make this thing epic.”

Ac­cord­ing to Min­is­ter Fedee, Mar­tinique may be Saint Lu­cia’s fourth largest tourism mar­ket, rep­re­sented by about 35,000 tourists a year; about 50% of to­tal Caribbean visi­tors. “The de­mand for Saint Lu­cia in Mar­tinique was very strong. We should be con­fi­dent to give our com­mit­ment now to Epic that we will be spon­sor­ing again next year.”

Mer­cury Fest in its early hours last week­end, be­fore some 4,000 fun­seek­ers took over Pi­geon Point.

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