Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — The Jamaica Tourist Board’s new Regional Director of Tourism for Canada says travel agents “are our end game in this marketplace. They’re selling our product to their clients. Our travel agent partners are very important to us and we want them to feel our presence.”
Angella Bennett says her immediate goal as she starts her tenure as the JTB’s Regional Director of Tourism for Canada is to strengthen relationships with the Canadian trade.
And while Jamaica has a very high profile with Canadian travellers, with plenty of product, “we’re really a boutique island,” says Bennett, adding, “we’re never going to be a cheap destination.” Jamaica doesn’t have the size of some other major Caribbean players but that suits the JTB just fine. “We’re in that sweet spot,” says Bennett.
Over the next five years Jamaica will see its largest ever investment from hoteliers, adding 15,000 rooms to its stock, for a total capacity of some 50,000 rooms by 2024.
Other resort brands with new or pipeline product for the island including Oceans by H10, AC Marriott (part of the joint development with Sandals Resorts in Kingston), Hard Rock Hotels and Karisma. Meanwhile many existing Jamaica favourites are getting a refresh, including RIU Ocho Rios, closing its doors for three months to add 45 family rooms and a waterpark, among other things.
Jamaica has evolved “and it’s important that agents’ perception of the island evolves too,” says Bennett.
What’s needed now is more lift. Specifically Jamaica is looking for more capacity and more frequencies, especially from new and emerging gateways. Western Canada is a target, and Quebec. “We are very much interested in adding more lift,” says Bennett.
This past winter was easily Jamaica’s best ever and Canada “contributed significantly” to those soaring numbers, says Donovan White, Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board.