The three-day event included a series of partner
presentations, agent FAMs and receptions, culminating in the Gala Evening,
during which the agents were recognized for their success in selling the
Jamaica market. When not on excursions or attending celebrations, the agents
enjoyed the five-star, all-inclusive resort, with its attractive collection of
resort pools with daybeds and shaded lounge chairs, fronted with white sand
Agents spent a morning session reviewing presentations from
select JTB partners, including Iberostar Grand, Margaritaville, Sandals, Chukka
Caribbean Adventures, Island Routes, and Club Mobay.
During the session, Deputy Tourism Director Philip Rose
noted that Jamaica’s tourism has bounced back. So far in 2023, JTB has tracked
visitor volumes up slightly over five percent higher compared to the same
period in 2019. Rose especially lauded the comeback of the Canadian market,
which is up more than 40% compared to the same period.
Excursions were provided by the popular vendors Chukka and
Island Routes—both now pan-Caribbean excursion operators with their roots in
Jamaica. The Island Routes excursion included a catamaran sailing with
snorkeling and some beach time at Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, where
agents and accompanying sales managers from JTB could relax and enjoy some rum
punch to celebrate their accomplishments.
To qualify, agents must have completed the Jamaica Travel Specialist program
and track their bookings on the Jamaica Travel Specialist portal to earn
points—not only toward recognition as a top producer but also for merchandise
or travel services for them to use for familiarization trips or client
incentives. The Jamaica Travel Specialist program also earns three Continuing
Education Credits from The Travel Institute.
That evening, a reception was held at Sandals
Montego Bay, where agents and regional JTB sales managers dressed in white
attended. Also in attendance was the Honorable Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s
Minister of Tourism. Just off a flight from Dubai, he carried two trophies from
the World Travel Awards, where Jamaica was awarded “World’s Leading Cruise
Destination 2023” and “World’s Leading Family Destination 2023.”
“Because of [agents], tourism has shown growth for ten
consecutive quarters—a big accomplishment not just for Jamaica, but for any
country,” Minister Bartlett said, further noting that Jamaica is on track to
break the record of four million previously recorded in 2019.
“The bigger story I want you to take away,” he said, “is the
earnings that means for Jamaica—to buy the pharmaceuticals we don’t produce
here—the food we don’t grow here. We need foreign exchange for that. The
Jamaica economy will now have $4.2 Billion from the tourism industry because of
that, and I want to thank you for helping us surpass the $4 Billion mark.”
He further explained that the government has set an
ambitious goal of 5 Million annual visitors and $5 Billion in yearly tourism
revenue by 2025 and that forecasts are tracking positively toward that goal.
“I want to thank you on behalf of Jamaica. The Prime
Minister, the Cabinet, every Jamaican—thank you for selling.”
The next evening, the gala awards ceremony was held at the
Iberostar Grand Rose Hall.
Director of Tourism Donovan White talked of the importance
to travel agents in selling Jamaica: “You have continued to be our eyes
and ears on the ground, and give us a temperature check. That information is
priceless as it reveals critical insights and knowledge to craft more accurate
initiatives. We continue to edge our way into the hearts of millions around the
world and [agents] are part of every success that we have had.”
The Top 50 Agents were recognized by region, and there were
further recognitions for the Top 10. In a departure from previous years, the
Top 10 finalists were not notified of their position in advance, so they were
first recognized for being in the Top 50, and then the Top 10 were revealed as
JTB Board of Directors Chairman John Lynch summed it up
succinctly from the audience during some brief remarks. “We love you, travel
agents. Go on selling Jamaica with the confidence that we will support you.”
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