Gospelfest 2016 got off to a lively start in bustling Bridgetown this morning, as Broad Street was filled with colourfully-attired dancers as they pranced and sang in the name of Jesus.
Celebrating their 24th year of worship and praise, the launch kicked off in Jubliee Gardens, rightfully so, in the presence of the ceremonial 50th anniversary broken trident.
In the midst of their Saturday shopping, locals and tourists stopped to listen as local Christian reggae artiste Gozzy serenaded with ‘Our God’ and pastor John Yarde led his ministry in song with ‘Release the Soundz’.
The festival to be held from May 21 to 29, continues to be an avenue for Barbadians to experience spiritual upliftment through various artforms.
Speaking at the launch, executive producer Adrian Agard said the festival continues to promote the “sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ through various artforms in an effort to bring positive change in our society.”
Following the theme Touching Lives – Changing Nations, the festival while boasting of several local artistes, will also include performances from international artists such as Sinach from Nigeria, A’leithia Sweeting from Bahamas and American band Anthony Brown and group therAPY.
Delivering his sponsor’s remarks, Robert Chase, marketing director of the Barbados Tourism Marketing (BTMI) stressed on the importance of exploring the growing market of faith-based tourism.
“Across the globe, faith-based tourism has grown significantly and we have also seen this trend in this niche market from the region and the diaspora. Consequently, Gospelfest has served to strengthen the linkages between Barbados, the region and the diaspora and I believe that we should fully explore this and form synergies with the churches to take faith-based tourism to the next level.”
Chase pointed out that Barbados had much to offer to the faith-based visitor, with historic sites such as the Nidhi Israel Synagogue, St. John Parish Church and St. Mary’s Church.
“This niche tourism market should not be restricted to a particular time of the year when Gospelfest is celebrated, but can be a year-long programme which allows visitors to be involved in church retreats, conventions, concerts, historic tours and similar activities.”
Chase revealed that the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) was currently organising faith-based trails and graveyard trails on churches throughout the island, with the first location being at All Saints Anglian Church in St Peter. (KK)