Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

*logoThe Jamaica Tourist Board has revved up its marketing efforts to stimulate tourist arrivals for the upcoming winter season. Marketing plans call for a mix of seminars, sales blitzes, fam trips for media and agents, consumer promotions and radio ads.

It’s part of the Jamaica's "Drive for Five" campaign, according to Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.

The campaign is geared at accelerating the country’s tourism growth to 5 million arrivals by 2015, which would result in annual tourism revenue of $5 billion, Bartlett said.

It’s an ambitious plan and optimistic arrivals numbers, and to reach it, Jamaica "must routinely review market trends and develop cutting-edge market intelligence," Bartlett said. "The product must be new and improved because the same-old, same- old no longer will fly."

Tourism arrivals from January to April, the peak of the winter tourist season, declined 8.7%, to 1.06 million, compared with the same period in 2008, according to data from the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism.

However, from January to June arrivals rose 3.4%, to 971,191, compared with the first six months of 2008.

The JTB will host 2,700 agents at seminars in 45 U.S. cities between September and March, according to Director of Tourism John Lynch.

US Airways, which will offer seasonal service from Phoenix from Dec. 18 through April 12, will partner with JTB to support airlift out of the Western U.S. through seminars, sales calls, travel agent training sessions and on-air radio promotions.

From September though December, the JTB is running a series of agent programs covering topics that include Jamaican cuisine, the island’s natural attractions, the Meet the People program and holiday traditions. Cooking demonstrations promoting Jamaican foods also are planned.

Radio ads will play in the U.K., Europe, U.S. and Canada from Nov. 1 to 15.

Wayne Cummings, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association, predicts a marginal improvement in the 2009-10 winter season.

"I think that the sense of confidence in the consumer in the tourism markets is improving and that should help push the arrivals numbers," Cummings said.

However, he was concerned that travelers might not be willing to pay more for hotel rooms.

"The one thing I have not seen turn the corner is the ability for us to get good hotel rates. People are remaining very savvy about what they spend on," Cummings said.

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