Jamaica’s latest entry in its wide range of promotions and marketing techniques showcases attractions on the island designed to lure vacationers out of the resorts and into the island life and culture.
The "Hidden Gems of Jamaica" video, part of a $10 million marketing campaign designed to improve Jamaica’s image, debuted following the recent gang shootings and curfews in west Kingston. It focuses on attractions in and around the tourist-heavy areas of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios.
"There’s a lot of stuff here that most visitors don’t know about it," said travel expert Peter Greenberg, who narrated the video. "There’s nothing wrong at all [with] spending an afternoon at the hotel pool or beach, but to really experience Jamaica you have to eat where the locals eat, get out on the water, into the great houses, the vendors’ stalls, the golf courses and museums."
A fast video tour included dogsledding at Chukka Caribbean Adventures, swimming with the dolphins or sharks at Dolphin Cove, and careening down the track on the bobsled ride at Mystic Mountain, all in Ocho Rios.
In Negril, Greenberg touted cliff diving, Cool Runnings Water Park, rafting through the canals of the Great Morass, sunset views from Rick’s Cafe and climbing to the top of the solar-powered Negril Lighthouse.
In Montego Bay, the focus was Gloucester Avenue’s "Hip Strip," with dancing, dining and music.
"More than 70% of all visitors to Jamaica come from the U.S.," Greenberg said. "They need to know that Jamaica is more than sun and sand, reggae and Rastafarians. It’s all about the Jamaica experience, from biking, rafting and four-wheeling to touring the 22 spots along the country’s Jerk Trail and visiting Greenwood Great House for a window into what life in Jamaica was like in the 1800s plantation era."
John Lynch, director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board, said that the video has been released to more than 2,000 agents, many of whom will visit Jamaica in September and take part in portions of the Hidden Gems tour.
Travel agents played a critical role in minimizing damage to Jamaica’s tourism industry during the June crisis, he said.
The agents "really helped," Lynch said. "They knew what was happening and where and added a sense of geography that reassured their clients."