“The numbers from Canada are extremely good”: Interview with JTB’s Director of Tourism, Donovan White
Donovan White

“The numbers from Canada are extremely good”: Interview with JTB’s Director of Tourism, Donovan White

TORONTO — Jamaica’s 98,000 Canadian visitors in the first five months of 2023, combined with a projected 120,000 more for the summer months, has the Caribbean island sitting pretty with an estimated 290,000 visitors from this market by the end of August.

That represents 15% market share from Canada for Jamaica. With stats like that, Donovan White, Director of Tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board, couldn’t be happier.

“The numbers are extremely good,” said White, in an interview yesterday.

White, along with Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Jamaica Tourist Board Canada, and other members of the JTB team are hosting a trade event tonight at Cirillo’s Academy in Toronto, and Travelweek spoke to White ahead of the event.

The strong numbers from the Canadian market “show good adaptability” – as Canadians went from not-travelling to suddenly, wonderfully, travelling – and also shows that demand for Jamaica “has always been there,” says White.

“The numbers from Canada are extremely good”: Interview with JTB’s Director of Tourism, Donovan White

Ocean Eden Bay


Canada’s airlines have always been there too for Jamaica, and they’re offering 20% more seats this summer to the island, for a total of 136,000. “Air Canada, WestJet, Swoop, Sunwing and Transat,” confirms White, as he runs through the airlines offering Jamaica. And maybe more, maybe one of Canada’s newest airline entrants? “Hopefully we’ll have more news about more seats with another carrier. That’s all I can say for now.”

New hotel and resort options abound in Jamaica as well. White says investor confidence in the island has hit an all-time high. Ocean Eden Bay, sister property to Ocean Coral Springs, opened during the pandemic. Meanwhile there have been groundbreakings for both the new Princess Hotels & Resorts property in Negril, with the first phase expected to open in Feb. 2024, and UNICO Montego Bay. Meanwhile RIU is working on its new Riu Aquarelle resort in Trelawney, with a projected April 2024 opening. White says a number of other projects will have their groundbreakings this summer as well.

Back in 2017 Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, launched Jamaica’s ‘5 by 5 by 5’ program, targeting 5 million visitors and US$5 billion in revenues in 5 years. The end date for those goals, in the wake of the pandemic, has been reset to 2024 and “we’re well on our way,” said White yesterday. In the next three to five years, Jamaica will also add 15,000+ new rooms to its hotel and resort offering.


Travel advisors are key to the JTB’s plans, just like always. The JTB has a strong connection to the retail travel trade in Canada, and maintained that connection during the pandemic with webinars, virtual coaching sessions and more, including the extremely popular ‘Irie Hour’ series.

“Our team in Canada never took their hands off the wheel,” when it came to keeping Jamaica front and centre with the Canadian trade, even if clients couldn’t travel, said White. “It was absolutely the secret to our success. Our engagement kept us connected with travel advisors, and it allowed travel advisors to remain actively in contact with their clients” during the pandemic.

Now that travel is back with a vengeance, travel agents are more important than ever, says White.

That’s why the JTB will keep up with its outreach to travel advisors, because “the most important tool in a travel agent’s toolkit is information.”

“Travel and tourism is still, as far as we’re concerned, led by the retail travel industry,” said White. “And we provide travel advisors with the information, programs and incentives they need, to make sure they’re always engaged with us.”

For all the latest product news from Jamaica, and for a chance to network with local and international delegates, JAPEX 2023 takes place Sept. 11 – 13 in Montego Bay. See JAPEX.org for details. And for the JTB’s site see visitjamaica.com.

“The numbers from Canada are extremely good”: Interview with JTB’s Director of Tourism, Donovan White

Doctor’s Cave Beach, Montego Bay

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