For the first time in its 30 years, the 2020 edition of Jamaica Product Exchange (Japex) will be held virtually.

On Nov. 9 to 10, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Jamaica Tourist Board will connect with their travel trade partners live on screen. The virtual platform will showcase the destination's tourism regions from afar; enable viewers to drop into a networking lounge and take part in online chats; and feature a prize center with regular giveaways.

"Japex has always been a marquee event on Jamaica's tourism calendar," said Donovan White, Jamaica's director of tourism. "While we're unable to meet in person this year, we have an opportunity to engage virtually and learn about new destination offerings and find out how our protocols have been implemented to keep residents and visitors safe."

The show will have elements of a traditional trade show, including a keynote speech by Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism. Attendees can wander the trade show floor using an interactive Google map.

Other activities include breakout and training sessions and one-on-one prescheduled video meetings.

The annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, organized by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), meanwhile, is usually held in late January, but next year it will be postponed to late April-early May.

"This will be a time when travel partners and members will be more flexible with travel plans, and hopefully we will have more clarity on the effects and future of the pandemic," said Karen Whitt, chairman of the event and a member of the CHTA's executive committee.

The planning committee canvassed travel partners, members, destination representatives and others for feedback on the best approach for producing the first Marketplace since the pandemic began.

Whitt reported support for an in-person conference.

"The collective feedback indicates a desire to be together in person rather than virtual," she said. "We've concluded that the only way to showcase the people, culture, food and music of the Caribbean is to actually be together in the Caribbean."

The CHTA hopes to soon announce the venue that will host to its conference.


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