Jamaica campaign aims to counter bad press

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NEW YORK -- Jamaica launched a multimillion-dollar tourism marketing campaign to counter negative publicity from violent clashes between security forces and residents of a west Kingston neighborhood earlier this month.

The government approved an initial $5 million for a tourism push that includes TV commercials featuring Bob Marley's familiar "One Love" anthem.

Calabash Bay, Jamaica.The commercials began running last week in 10 cities that represent Jamaica's major feeder markets: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New Orleans.

The ads are scheduled to run on local affiliates of the major TV networks and on national cable channels through late August. A similar campaign is being prepared for Europe.

The campaign includes familiarization trips for some 300 U.S. travel agents a week in September, as well as a stepped-up presence at trade shows by the Jamaica Tourist Board.

"This has been done to contain any possible fallout" from this months violence in Kingston, said Noel Mignott, deputy director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board.

Mignott said the campaign also will include E-mails to "thousands" of agents featuring letters penned by top tourism officials containing destination updates.

Mignott said the Jamaica Tourist Board had been lobbying the government for additional advertising dollars to counter what he described as "the dip in tourism affecting the entire Caribbean this year." The recent violence in Kingston made the cash infusion "all the more important," he said.

Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson called out the Army to restore order in Kingston following three days of gun battles between the police and residents in early July that left at least two dozen people dead.

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