Jamaica does damage control after riots


NEW YORK -- The Jamaica Tourist Board launched a "major recovery program" to lessen possible visitor fallout after the recent deadly protests over a hike in gas prices and taxes.

The most visible component of the plan is a larger television presence on national cable channels like CNN, the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel and the Arts and Entertainment channel. The accelerated television push began on April 29 and is scheduled to last five weeks.

The tourist board pulled its "One Love" television spots after a 31% increase in gas prices on April 16 prompted three days of rioting that left nine people dead. As a result of the demonstrations, airlines suspended flights, cruise lines altered itineraries and ground operators halted some of their services.

Other components of the recovery program include:

  • A beefed-up trade advertising campaign in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
  • A series of travel agent "fly-ins," in conjunction with Air Jamaica, American Airlines and other carriers serving Jamaica.
  • An accelerated schedule of seminars, attended by senior tourism officials, for the trade in all primary and secondary markets.
  • Meetings with major incentive houses and meeting planners in the U.S.
  • A "beautification" of the major resort areas, including Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios, undertaken by the Tourism Product Develop-ment Co.
  • Meanwhile, Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson on April 27 cut in half the gasoline tax hike that raised prices at the pump from $1.55 to $2.01 per gallon. The prime minister said he would announce new measures shortly to make up the $37 million budget shortfall as a result of the gas tax rollback.

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