Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Buju Banton Story: Capitalising on the Long Walk to Freedom

Published:Friday | March 15, 2019 | 12:35 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
An Airbnb apartment in Kingston.
An Airbnb apartment in Kingston.

Arguably, the biggest and most talked-about concert of the year is Buju Banton’s Long Walk to Freedom, which takes place tomorrow at the National Stadium. Music lovers are not the only ones anticipating the big concert; Airbnb operators, car-rental companies, hackney carriage owners, restaurants, and street vendors are just a few who have capitalised on the reggae entertainer’s comeback event.

According to Safia Cooper, reservations for the Pulse Rooms at Trafalgar have exceeded all expectations. “The Christmas and New Year periods were very busy, and it transitioned into the Easter period, especially for the concert that happens this weekend. The interests and bookings have increased,” revealed Cooper.

The 22-room facility is located in the heart of Kingston’s business district and very close to the concert venue. The Pulse executive said, “You will find that persons extend their stays based on just how favourable their experiences have been, and a key component of the accommodations is the opportunity to go on Pulse’s Kingston Culture Tour, which includes visits to the Peter Tosh Museum, and the medical marijuana Sensi Herb House, the Bob Marley Museum, the historical Devon House, and Trench Town.”

Cooper said that they are almost at 100 per cent capacity. She added, “Next to airport transfers, guests are being given paid transportation options to and from the concert. Similar packages will be available as we approach the carnival period.”

SCRAMBLING TO MEET DEMAND

According to Khahail Brown, director of Aspen Luxury Suites, “With the Long Walk To Freedom concert, there is a large group of business owners like myself, a member of the Airbnb network, investing in the opportunity to earn and potentially expand.” She added, “There is an active, fairly large WhatsApp communications group that I am a part of, and right now, the discussion is how to accommodate persons that are late to book rooms and need an option that is feasible. Everybody is booked out, so we are scrambling to facilitate the guests, many of whom are tourists.”

From a business standpoint, capitalising on events of this nature makes sense, she says, especially for a small entrepreneur or someone aspiring to be one, and it is also beneficial for the country’s tourism product.

“It shows that our people have business ideas and support the tourism and entertainment industries. It is all part of the enhancement,” she said. “There are also persons seeking loans, but most are discreet as to their reasons. There are a few that are trying to fund the vacation-type event, from booking stays in Kingston to car rentals for the weekend.”

Taxi operators and private carriers are not excluded from the list of individuals capitalising on this weekend’s activities. Taxi operators are offering packages for pickups and drop-offs on a schedule for persons going to and from the event at designated areas.