ONE LOVE (1994 – 2003)
The period 1994-2003 was defined by even more sweeping changes internationally and challenges both at home and abroad. This was the age of globalization. The further development of information-communication technologies and the growth internationally, for example, in 24-hour cable television which caters to a multitude of interests; and the availability of “instant information” through computers and the Internet, revolutionized global marketing. There was a dramatic increase in the use of these technologies both in the travel industry as well as in other spheres of general life. Their reach and impact became even more apparent with the Y2K scare in 1999.
All-inclusive hotels which came to prominence during the 1980s were to become increasingly popular during the 1990s and in 1995 Jamaica surpassed the US$ 1 billion mark in earnings from tourism.
Jamaica, like other destinations was challenged by “slowing global economies”, “sluggish consumer behaviour”, increasing competition and insufficient air seats from key markets. The JTB also continued to face budgetary constraints and strategies had to be found to combat Jamaica’s negative image associated with crime and violence and tourist harassment. Traveller safety also became an increasing concern with the growing threat of international terrorism. This was greatly exacerbated on September 11, 2001, when four aircrafts in the United States of America were hijacked by terrorists and crashed - two in the World Trade Center in New York and one in the Pentagon in Washington, killing thousands. This incident was followed by fundamental changes in the international travel industry. Locally, more emphasis was placed on protecting the industry.
On February 1, 1994 Fay Pickersgill was appointed Director of Tourism, a post which she held until February 28, 2003. During this period the JTB was served by five Chairmen including: Raphael (Rae) Barrett (1994), Hon. R. Danny Williams O.J. (1996), Adrian Robinson(1998), William E. Clarke (2001) and Dennis Morrison (2002).
Despite the negatives, the JTB recorded many successes during the period. The “magic” of modern technology, increased media outlets and creative advertising “put Jamaica in front of more consumers and members of the trade than ever before.” In 1994, for the first time, the “One Love” commercial was broadcast worldwide through Cable News Network (CNN), and Jamaica’s television advertisement was “aired throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, North and South America – a first for any Caribbean destination.” New advertising was also created for the African American market.
Internet service was introduced in 1994 and hailed as the “new marketing frontier, with major implications for those involved in travel marketing, sales, planning and purchasing.” The Board declared its intent to “exploit it to its full potential” and in 1995 took the initiative to computerize its offices worldwide. The JTB also pioneered the “Jamaica Travel Special Programme” in 1994 to build loyalty between the organization and travel agents and staged the “Caribbean Sports and Special Events Conference” at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston in September of that year.
The Board’s efforts also won for Jamaica many accolades from the industry in 1994 as the island was voted: the number one honeymoon destination; number three among single working women and number eight overall among 70 countries surveyed. The World Market Travel Awards and Travel Trade Gazette also voted Jamaica “Top Caribbean Destination” and the JTB “Top Caribbean Tourist and Convention Board” in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Jamaica was also voted the “Top Caribbean Destination” for the fourth consecutive year at the World Travel Market Awards in 1997 and programmes prepared for the JTB won 16 Golden Bell Public Relations Awards in New York in 1997.
The JTB’s marketing efforts resulted in a record breaking winter performance as Jamaica welcomed 345,863 stopover visitors to break the record set in 1993. The growth in the Japanese market continued as stopover figures exceeded the 20,000 mark. Arrivals from this market would continue to increase for the next two years. In 1994 “Non-resident Jamaicans” were also included in the JTB’s annual statistical report for the first time.”
While it marketed abroad, the JTB also continued to reach out to communities and industry workers at home. In 1994, the Board launched the Community Outreach Programme, “We are Jamaica. Let’s Make it Great.” The JTB also partnered with the JHTA in an initiative to give teachers a “first-hand” view of how tourism works. An active schools’ programme including the establishment of Tourism Action Clubs, the organization of Curriculum Development Workshops, the Conde Nast Essay Competition and presentations on career options in tourism, were all part of the JTB’s programme in 1995 the effort to heighten awareness about the industry. In 1996 work also commenced on the “Infusion of Tourism in Education Programme”, which was developed with the Ministry of Education. It aimed to “introduce and teach tourism concepts to students through the most facilitatory subjects.”
There was more change at the JTB when in 1995 the tourism portfolio was placed within the Office of the Prime Minister under the direct supervision of a Minister of Tourism. On May 1, Basil Smith was appointed Deputy Director of Tourism for Local Communication and on December 18 Allan Gotting, Director of Cruise Shipping. On April 1, 1996 a marketing sub-committee of the Board of Directors was appointed to develop a long term strategic plan for the industry’s growth.
The JTB launched an aggressive marketing campaign to combat increasing regional and international competition as well as the negative perception that Jamaica was unsafe, unfriendly, and an all-inclusive destination. Among its activities, increased efforts were made to “reach out” to Jamaican communities overseas; the “Friends of Jamaica Programme” which targeted the “grassroots” was launched at a special presentation in New York; a “Tourism Helpline” providing 24-hour “response service” to assist visitors who need information was established; and on February 14,1996 the JTB also launched the Honeymoon Trail” a new programme for visiting honeymooners which also facilitated easy passage through the Sangster International Airport. To make a greater impact in Latin America, the JTB along with American Airlines embarked on a programme to familiarize journalists from the region with Jamaica.
The capital city of Kingston whose image had been tarnished by crime and violence over the years, was given a boost in May 1996 when for the first time since it was introduced in 1991 JAPEX was convened in the city instead of Ocho Rios or Montego Bay. The event was again held in Kingston in April, 2000 a move designed to help in “repositioning Kingston as a desirable centre for tourism.”
By 1996, the “One Love” theme had become the “musical logo” for the JTB and its use would continue beyond 2003.
The 1990s was a significant period in cruise shipping with the increase in mega liners which have the capacity to carry thousands of passengers on each trip. In 1996 Jamaica recorded a year of “explosive” growth in the cruise business with the visit of the “Carnival Destiny” of Carnival Cruise Lines with 2,600 berths; the “Galaxy” of Celebrity Cruise Line with 1900 berths. Cruise passenger arrivals in 1996 numbered 658,178, over 50,000 more than 1995. Of that number a record breaking 456,312 cruise passengers visited Ocho Rios. In 1997 the “Splendor of the Seas” and the “Enchantment of the Seas” also started calling at the Ocho Rios Port, bringing an additional 4,000 berths to the island. Again, records were broken when for the first time, cruise passenger arrivals to Jamaica exceeded the 700,000 mark and Ocho Rios welcomed 532,408 passengers.
With a fully functional Local Communication Department, the JTB in 1996 launched a comprehensive campaign using a variety of media including print, billboards, radio and television. The programmes “Doin’ the T” and “Putting Yourself in the Picture” were developed to highlight opportunities in tourism as well as well as the industry’s positive impact on the lives of Jamaicans.
The radio drama “Nora by the Sea” which explored the lives of “ordinary” Jamaicans who work in tourism was also developed. The Department also prepared the “JTB Newsbrief” a twice weekly newsletter containing important reports covered by local newspapers for dissemination to all JTB offices both locally and overseas. In 1997, 49 high schools participated in the “National Tourism Quiz” competition which was held for the first time.
Further changes were to come in 1997 with the appointment of a new Minister of Tourism in April and later a new Board on August 1. Changes were again made to the Board in July 1998.
The advances in communication and the ability of the new information technologies to “shrink” the globe resulted in Jamaica and its markets as well as its competitors operating in closer proximity than ever before. Recognising the necessity to claim its place in an increasingly globalized world, the JTB developed the “Global positioning statement”: “Jamaica is the most complete, diverse and unique warm weather destination in the world, delivering the best vacation value available.” To protect brand “JAMAICA” the Board also shifted its marketing strategy to “Master Brand Management”.
The JTB embarked on a comprehensive re-structuring programme in 1997 which resulted in the establishment of two international marketing divisions: “The Americas”, which covered the United States of America, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean; and Europe and the Far East, which covered the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and the Far East.
Strong emphasis was placed on resort area marketing as well as niche marketing as it became increasingly important to cater to special interest groups such as hikers and nature lovers, horticulturalists, honeymooners, families, African Americans and non-resident Jamaicans.
In July 1997, the JTB published the first edition of the “Feel Alright” newsletter to “bring current information to a database of 5,000 off-shore meeting and incentive planners on Jamaica’s group product.”
The Board also restructured its local operations in 1997 to give the Corporate Planning Department a lead role in the development and execution of marketing programmes. The Local Communication Department was reorganized into three sections – Regional Offices, Events and Special Projects, and Public Relations and Promotions – with each of the three sections led by a General Manager.
For the fiscal year 1998 / 1999 the JTB contributed to the Office of the Prime Minister’s “Tourism priority programme” which was “the development of the country’s first comprehensive, long term Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development”. The JTB also introduced the “Insider’s Jamaica” programme to promote small EP hotels and a “Direct Mail” programme was also implemented.
During the period, particularly between 2000 and 2003, the JTB placed special emphasis on the staging and marketing of special events, some of which were either created or supported by the Board to provide added attraction and entertainment; highlight the island’s diversity and give visitors a “real taste” of Jamaica. The participation of Jamaicans in these projects also brought economic benefit to the areas in which they were staged. The JTB was heavily involved in planning, organizing and promoting annual events such as the South Coast Craft and Shrimp Festival; Jamaica Spice Food Festival; the Portland Jerk Festival, which from its introduction in 2000 has been one of the largest food festivals in the Caribbean; the Trelawny Yam Festival; Columbus Regatta held in Discovery Bay, St. Ann; the Drax Hall Kite Festival; the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival; the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival; Reggae Marathon held in Negril and the Fun In the Son Gospel Festival which was launched as an alternative for Spring Break in March 2002, among others.
Jamaica created history in 1998 when through its national football team, the “Reggae Boyz” the island became the first English speaking territory to qualify for the World Cup finals which were held in France. The JTB saw this as a great promotional opportunity for Jamaica and a number of special activities were planned featuring the team. A highlight of this effort was the construction of a giant football which was used to create “massive” publicity around the Reggae Boyz. The ball was inaugurated at the Charles de Gaulle airport in France in June 1998 and was the focal point for visitors to Paris during the football competition. It was subsequently submitted by the JTB to the Guinness Book of World Records for consideration.
Among the JTB’s activities during 1999 were a number of highlights. Through the Public Education Unit, the Board, “played an important role in structuring the Masters Degree programme in Tourism and Hospitality Management,” at the University of the West Indies, Mona. To stimulate increased travel to Jamaica the organization also expanded and launched the “Insider’s Jamaica” programme in the United Kingdom and Europe in November of that year. To encourage Jamaican nationals around the world to keep informed about activities at home the JTB launched a new “Homecoming” website – www.jamaicahomecoming.com . Jamaica also welcomed the world’s largest cruise ship, the “Voyager of the Seas” with a capacity of 3,600 passengers.
Despite its many achievements, 1999 proved to be a challenging year for the JTB. The negative publicity attracted by the “gas price demonstrations” in April, demanded immediate strategies and a creative “Recovery Programme” to counter the damage to Jamaica’s image. A major cable television advertising campaign in North America and the United Kingdom; the scheduling of numerous familiarization trips and an “aggressive multi-faced public relations campaign overseas,” were some of the activities implemented by the Board.
As the world anticipated the coming of 2000 and the dawn of a new millennium, the industry had to confront the “Y2K Challenge” which caused some nervousness among consumers as there were “concerns about the potential failure of the computer systems to handle the date change from 1999 to the year 2000.” This was thought to have potentially negative repercussions for air travel.
While these negatives had their impact, the industry’s resilience was demonstrated in a “2% increase in stopover arrivals and a 14 % growth in cruise passenger arrivals for the year.” Estimated earnings for 1999 were over US$ 1.2 billion.
The appointment of a new Minister as head of the newly formed Ministry of Tourism & Sport as well as Entertainment and Women’s Affairs in 2000, meant more changes for the JTB which came under the Ministry’s portfolio. The Board was challenged to reflect this “fusion” in its operations, a task which was not considered counter to the range of activities in which the JTB was already involved.
During the year the Board continued to be challenged by budgetary constraints as well as recession in some of its markets. Arrivals from Japan which had showed early encouraging signs of growth had declined from a high of over 23,000 in 1995 to 8,411 in 1999. The decision was taken in 2000 to close the office and “ Bob’s Network”, a marketing company, appointed to represent the JTB in the region.
The Groups and Conventions Department whose primary responsibility is to attract group business to the island by positioning Jamaica as an ideal location, successfully staged the first “Jamaica Meetings Exchange” (JAMEX) at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay in June 2000. The JTB welcomed over 700 students from schools across Jamaica who attended the third annual ‘Youth in Tourism Conference” in October 2000 at the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios.
In addition to a “slowing down of world economy”, the island’s “tourism industry had to face one of the most difficult years in recent tourism history” in 2001. Violence at home in West Kingston in July 2001 greatly affected Jamaica’s image in the marketplace and “Operation Grow” a marketing strategy implemented by the Ministry of Tourism & Sport and the JTB to “drive” short term bookings and devise longer term strategies to “improve Jamaica’s image in main source markets”, helped to reduce the impact of the related incidents.
The world travel industry, including Jamaica received a devastating blow on September 11 of the same year as a result of the terrorist attacks in the United States of America which permanently altered the face of international travel. In response, the JTB implemented phase II of a modified “Operation Grow”. Through its marketing activities the Board maintained a “strong presence” in the “US market by way of sales and public relations activities as well as a co-ordinated advertising effort, transitioning from a message of solidarity with the American people to a sensitive and appropriate “invitation” to consumers to “revive your spirit and renew your soul” in Jamaica”.
Despite a decline in arrivals for 2001 it was evident that these initiatives were effective in minimizing the effects of the events. Total stopover arrivals for 2001 showed a 3.5% decline at 1,276,516 while cruise passenger arrivals declined by 7.4% at 840,337.
A measure of the JTB’s impact in the marketplace was also reflected in the travel industry’s recognition of its efforts. The Groups and Conventions Department won the “Successful Meetings’ Pinnacle Award” and “Incentive Magazine’s Platinum Partner Award” for the third consecutive year while Jamaica won the “Corporate & Incentive Travel’s Award of Excellence”. Caribbean World Magazine’s Platinum Award for “Best Island of the Year” was also presented to Jamaica.
In 2002 the continued nervousness in the travel industry was exacerbated as the United States of America, Jamaica’s primary market, prepared to go to war against Iraq. Jamaica also faced General Elections in October. The JTB mounted a “precise and focused deployment of innovative sales and marketing strategies” targeted not only at consumers but also travel agents.
Based on a review, the decision was also taken to redesign and modernize the www.jamaicatravel.com website “to take advantage of recent advances in internet technology and its application to tourism marketing.” While the contract to complete this task was awarded to the firm “Motivo” in 2002”, the new site www.visitjamaica.com was launched on March 20, 2003.
In 2002 the JTB had also implemented an “Intranet portal” a “company-wide information platform which bound together the necessary information for all employees to perform their jobs more effectively.”
In April 2002, the JTB appointed Global Marketing and Sales, Inc. (GMS) and re-launched its Latin American Division “which serves as the liaison between the tour operators and the hotels.” The challenge for this promising market continued to be the availability of airlifts into the island. In 2002, there was a notable 53.8% increase in arrivals from Spain.
During the year the JTB lent its expertise in the areas of public relations, hospitality, and media relations to the staging of the ninth “IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics” held at Jamaica’s National Stadium in July. The island successfully hosted some 2,000 athletes and 210 coaches for what was hailed as the “largest athletic meet to be hosted in Jamaica.” The celebration of Jamaica’s 40th anniversary of Independence in August of 2002 also provided a focus for the JTB’s marketing efforts which included a host of media and commemorative events in key cities both in North America and the United Kingdom.
Through the JTB’s Public Education Department, a number of workshops were held concerning the “Infusion Programme” which is designed “to give all children between ages four and fourteen exposure to tourism concepts” through textbooks designed and distributed by the JTB in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and culture. A total of 12 workshops were conducted and six regional meetings were addressed.
The industry also got an important boost in 2002 with the opening of the “World Class Mega Yacht Marina” in Port Antonio, Portland. The Island village Entertainment complex featuring a variety of shops, restaurants and other amenities was also opened in Ocho Rios.
At the end of 2002, stopover visitor arrivals to Jamaica numbered 1,266,366 and cruise passengers 865,419 for a total of 2,131,785. Estimated earnings were US$1,209 million.