Mercury Fest Raised Weekend Heatwave Temperatures!
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.