The period 1984-1994 was characterized by new developments in Jamaica’s tourism, some of which were brought about by changing technologies as well as the JTB’s continued exploration of new marketing methods and additional markets as far away as Japan. Jamaica was also many steps closer to shedding its image as a winter vacation destination and becoming an “all-year (four seasons) vacation spot”.The Board wrote a new chapter in its history in June 1984 with the appointment of Carrole Guntley, as the first female Director of Tourism. The Ministry under whose auspices the Board now fell was the Ministry of Mining, Energy and Tourism and a new Board of Directors was appointed in September of the same year. For the first time since the JTB was established, the post of Chairman of the Board was held by two separate individuals with Leo Wyman Acting as Chairman until Senator John Issa was appointed in September 1984. Other restructuring operations, partially due to budgetary constraints, followed at the outset with the closure of the JTB’s Continental European office in Frankfurt, Germany in July of 1984. The Courtesy Corps and Courtesy Unit were “amalgamated under the name, Courtesy Unit’ ” that August but by 1987 it would be placed under the supervision of the Police. Work commenced on revising the Tourist Board Act to improve standards within the industry and the Standards Unit was subsequently “resuscitated” and a Director employed. Legislation was enacted in 1985 to decrease harassment which by then was beginning to have “a negative impact on the tourist trade.”Under the tourist Board (Amendment) Act of 1985 the JTB was given the “necessary authority to inspect and license tourism enterprises and take corrective action.” In 1987 the Board’s Licensing Unit embarked on a programme to license all 4,000 tourism enterprises in Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, including 1,800 vendors. The JTB also placed great emphasis on training and in 1986 the Runaway Bay HEART (Human Education and Resource Training) Academy was established with the assistance of the Board’s training department.With visitor arrivals now showing a steady increase at 843,774 for 1984 over 782,953 in 1983, the JTB’s sights were set on attaining the 1,000,000 visitor milestone in the fiscal year 1985 / 1986.To increase airlifts into the island, in May 1984 Air Jamaica introduced non-stop twice-weekly Los Angeles to Montego Bay service. The Board also diversified its marketing efforts into various special interest areas including health, fitness and sport, ethnic programming and entertainment.In 1985 the JTB signed an agreement with the Professional Golf Association (PGA) for Jamaica to host the Annual Mazda Golf Championship which offered a record first prize of US$500,000. The tournament was staged at the Tryall Club in December of that year.The gas price increase and resulting demonstrations which ushered in January 1985 had a negative impact on the industry and at the end of the year the JTB failed to meet its one million visitors’ objective. It was also a significant year for arrivals from Canada as the number of visitors surpassed the previous 1982 mark for a record 82,294. Total estimated earnings were US$ 406.8 million.To intensify its marketing effort the Board through its advertising agency Young and Rubicam used the “old ‘Come Back to Jamaica’ theme” to create an advertising campaign which focused on both “the visitor and the product.” Television commercials highlighted Jamaica as a destination for romance, excitement and self discovery and in January 1986 a major travel agent’s incentive programme “make it Jamaica” was launched. The JTB also produced a Hotel Value Guide as well as the cruise video “Jamaica All Ashore” which showed the island’s four ports – Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston. The trade shows “Jamaica Challenge” and “Jamaica Marketplace” were held in the island in the spring of 1986 and BWIA resumed service to Montego Bay and Kingston.
The introduction of scheduled weekly Concorde service from New York to Montego Bay for the winter of 1986 / 1987 provided an additional 1200 airline seats into the island and created additional marketing opportunities for Jamaica. In 1987 the JTB also completed negotiations with the German airline LTU to fly once per week to Jamaica. The Board also converted the prowess of Jamaica’s Bobsled team into additional marketing opportunities for the island.During 1986 the restructuring of the Board continued. The functions of the Groups and Conventions Department were incorporated into the activities of the regional offices. On September 15 the JTB opened an office in Dallas, Texas to cover the South Western region. The Los Angeles office was also upgraded to a regional office and the UK office received a regional manager with responsibilities for UK-Europe. The Frankfurt office was also reopened in mid 1986.
In May 1986 “Graycom International” was contracted as the JTB’s public relations firm in New York and in the United Kingdom the public relations firm “Publicity Plus Limited” was appointed in September of the same year. In November 1987, “Target Public Relations Company” was appointed to represent the JTB in France and “Shandwick Communications Limited” was the selected representative in the United Kingdom.The JTB’s marketing efforts were rewarded as 1986 was a record year for tourist arrivals to Jamaica. The island welcomed a total of 954,621 visitors, of which 278,507 were cruise ship passengers. Estimated visitor expenditure was US$516 million. Jamaica was ranked fourth in the Caribbean for cruise ship passenger arrivals that year.To realize the potential offered by the Japanese market, on October 1, 1986, the JTB contracted the “Carrington Group” to be its official representative for Japan. In December 1987 tour packages to Jamaica were launched and by 1990 the Japanese market began to grow rapidly with over 6,000 visitors to Jamaica compared with 1,800 in 1988. In 1991, visitor arrivals from Japan grew to 11,462, an 87.8% increase over 1990.
The Board mounted marketing initiatives to reach Black Americans in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas as well as other North American areas such as Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in Florida and New Orleans. The JTB also explored the Spanish speaking community in Dade County, Florida and pushed to “make Jamaica a primary destination in the Latin American Market.” Through VASP/ATI Viajes weekly charters, air service was established to Jamaica from Brazil and Argentina.Locally, the JTB continued its effort to increase awareness about the industry, decrease harassment, create events to promote social interaction between visitors and locals, encourage Jamaicans to vacation in Jamaica and educate the local media about tourism. “Tourism and Me”, the “Schools Tourism Programme” developed by the JTB in association with the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Teacher’s Association to sensitise children to the economic importance of tourism to Jamaica, began in January 1987. The local summer promotional programme “Jamaica Bruckins” as well as a “Student Week” was introduced and the VIJ (Very Important Jamaican) Holiday Programme was launched in association with Grace Tours.For Jamaica’s tourism, 1997 proved to be another historic year. Although the Stock Market crash in October in the United States of America adversely affected visitor arrivals to Jamaica, the one million visitor mark was reached and exceeded on December 17. A total of 1,037,634 visitors arrived in the island and with this achievement Jamaica became the first country in the Caribbean to welcome one million visitors in a 12-month period. Visitor expenditure was estimated at US$595 million. As a result of the JTB’s efforts in the region 5,758 visitors from the Caribbean were numbered among those who came to the island.
Over 1988 – 1989, the challenge for Jamaica’s tourism sector included poor regional sales; crime and violence involving Jamaicans at home and abroad which resulted in negative media reports; looming General Elections and the passing of Hurricane Gilbert which devastated the island on September 12, 1988.The JTB’s initiatives to encourage travel to Jamaica as well as to improve the product included contracting “Sergat Italia” to represent the island in the Italian market; instituting a Spring Break programme in March 1988 which attracted 3,000 students to Jamaica, and the hosting of 1,200 travel agents in May 1988 courtesy of the “Jamaica Update” programme.
Locally, the JTB launched the “Protect Our Tourism” anti-harassment campaign which featured popular Disc Jockey “Lt. Stitchie” and radio personality “Barry G” among others. Recognising the growing importance of Mandeville and the South Coast to the industry, the JTB opened an office in Madeville and appointed a District Manager to oversee operations. In June 1988 the first “Hot Air Balloon Festival” co-sponsored by the JTB was held in Montpelier. Participants included six Americans, seven English one Canadian and one Jamaican. At the JTB’s urging, the Shell Company Limited also installed a number of “Traveller Information Centres” in gas stations in resort areas and major towns across Jamaica.New attractions which began operations during the year included Crystal Springs in Buff Bay, South Coast Safari in Black River, Calypso Rafting in Ocho Rios and Paul Cross Nursery in Mandeville. The newsletters, “The Tourism Talk” and “Tourism Update” for the Jamaican community resident in the United Kingdom were produced in 1988 and 1989 respectively.To stimulate business for Jamaica following Hurricane Gilbert, the JTB launched the “Join the Jamaica Trail” travel incentive programme at World Travel Market in December 1988. The Board intensified its advertising campaign around the theme “Jamaica is Better Than Ever” using “spot” and cable television, newspapers and magazines to disseminate the message. As a result of the JTB’s public relations campaign, the Public Relations Society of America awarded its 1988 Big Apple Award for Excellence in the Crisis Communication category to the JTB’s public relations agency for restoring Jamaica’s image after the Hurricane.
Following the General Elections of February 1989 and the subsequent change in Government, an organizational review of the JTB was commissioned to determine its efficiency and effectiveness. This was followed by restructuring activities which included the separation of the Sales and Marketing functions and the appointment of a Deputy Director of Tourism for each portfolio in an effort to maximize each activity. On April 1, 1989, “Peter Martin Associates, Inc.” was re-appointed the Board’s public relations agency in New York and in August “Barclay Stratton Public Relations” replaced “Shandwick Communications Limited” in the United Kingdom. The operations in Dallas were “down-scaled” to a field office and the JTB’s Sales Office was also relocated from New York to Miami on October 1, 1989. In March 1990 Foote Cone Belding /Leber Katz Partners (FCB/LKP) was selected as the new JTB advertising agency worldwide.
A Miami-based Consultant /Advisor was appointed to the Cruise Ship Division of the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism and in June 1989 the JTB’s office in London was relocated to the Victoria Mutual Jamaica Building at Gloucester Place.
In 1989, for the first time the JTB revised its statistical reporting to include non-resident Jamaicans visiting the island in its arrival figures.Continuing its special events and promotional efforts, the JTB co-sponsored the first Kite Flying Festival to be held in Jamaica on May 23, 1989. The Board was also successful in attracting the Motown / Pepsi “Soul by the Sea” concert and television special to Jamaica which was held on the beach at Tryall in November 1989.In 1990 the JTB along with the JHTA entered into an arrangement with Rick Still and Associates to develop and produce two conferences per year in Jamaica beginning in January 1990. This arrangement gave birth to JAPEX, the highly successful sales event held annually in Jamaica for buyers from Latin and Central America, Europe and the Far East at JAPEX I and JAPEX II which caters to buyers from North America. In 1990 JAPEX I attracted 90 suppliers and 60 buyers to Jamaica. In 1991, 372 “delegate buyers” attended the event. In May 1991, JAPEX II was attended by the “strongest buyer delegation ever to come to a single destination tourism sales conference in the Caribbean.”In an effort to continue to heighten local awareness about tourism plans were outlined under the “Schools’ Tourism Programme” to develop a “Reference Text” on tourism for secondary schools and to commemorate World Tourism Day in September 1989 a tourism quiz was aired on JBC Radio One.
The JTB’s reputation for winning important industry awards was enhanced when in 1989 the Canadian office was recognized by travel industry peers with the “Foreign Tourist Board of the Year Award,” a first for the Caribbean.To boost arrivals from Latin America the JTB worked with the Ministries of Tourism and National Security to remove the visa requirements from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, as well as all EEC countries including Spain and Portugal. By 1992, some 11,852 stopover visitors had arrived in Jamaica from Latin America. The JTB also contributed to the draft of a Five Year Plan for tourism.Internationally, the 1990’s were heralded in by war in the Persian Gulf (1991) and economic recession in Jamaica’s primary overseas markets. Three major air carriers to Jamaica; Eastern, Pan American and Continental Airlines, all declared bankruptcy. For world tourism, changes were again evident as safety became increasingly important to potential travellers who, at the same time, also wanted to have more diverse and meaningful travel experiences.Growing emphasis was placed on niche marketing and the provision of facilities such as family oriented resorts, healthy lifestyle options and satisfying the visitors’ need to have “cultural” experiences. The proliferation of computers and the increasing popularity of the Internet created a more global perspective for users, including consumers as they now had easier access to information. The impact on the travel industry was beginning to be felt. This was also the era in which Eco tourism and the world’s concern with protecting and preserving the environment gained momentum and in June 1992 an Eco Tourism conference was held in Port Antonio. In cruise shipping, this was the age of the “mega liners”. In September 1990 Robert Stephens was appointed Director of Tourism with O.K. Melhado who was later succeeded as Board Chairman by Raphael (Rae) Barrett in May 1991. The international as well as local climate demanded that the JTB remain an aggressive leader in the marketplace, and the Board mounted massive print and television advertising campaigns as well as increased public relations and promotional activities.To underscore the uniqueness of the Jamaican experience, the JTB in 1990 launched “One Love.” This eventually became its “signature” campaign theme using reggae music and what would later be hailed as the most internationally acclaimed of Bob Marley’s songs,. The campaign went on to win an award in the advertising category in the” World Travel Market International Tourism Promotion of the Year” competition. Promotional and other highlights of the period include the staging of JAPEX II which was held in May 1990 for the North American market; a 32 station radio satellite remote broadcast which lasted over two weeks with 640 hours of air time; the “Jamaica Classic Golf Tournament” which was held at the Tryall Club in January 1991 in which 79 professional golfers participated. It was also broadcast live on ESPN. In December 1991 the inaugural “Johnnie Walker Championship of Golf Tournament” was also held at Tryall offering a U.SS$2.5 million purse with a first prize of US$525,000. The staging of the second Pepsi/Motown Soul by the Sea special was held at the Wyndham Rose Hall Hotel in December 1991.In the area of product improvement, in1990 a Bed and Breakfast programme for “budget” visitors was launched in the Corporate Area and this was monitored by the JTB to ensure that standards were upheld. In December of the same year, construction was completed and the cruise ship terminal was opened in Montego Bay. The JTB published the “Port of Montego Bay” brochure to coincide with the opening. In June 1991, the Carnival Cruise Lines Mega Liner “Ecstasy” with a capacity of 2,600 passengers, made its first call at the Reynolds Pier in Ocho Rios. This “ushered in a new era for the island’s cruise shipping industry.” The facilitate cruise visitors the JTB also collaborated with JUTA to establish a shuttle bus service for cruise ship passengers to have easier access to the craft market.In a further restructuring exercise in 1991, over 120 posts at the JTB were made redundant. The Courtesy Office ceased operations on June 30. Overseas offices were closed in Montreal, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston Dallas and Atlanta. The New York, London and Frankfurt offices were required to operate out of more “modest accommodations.” “Sergat Espana” was appointed as JTB representatives in Spain and “M.S.A. Representaciones Ltda.” was contracted in December 1991 to represent the Board initially for two years.To encourage community involvement, the JTB launched the “New Tourism Coalition” at Port Royal on August 14, 1991. This initiative was based on “Community action planning and implementation”. The JTB’s Planning and Research Department also completed the first phase of the “Tourism Social and Economic Impact study” and collaborated with JAMPRO to produce a “Portfolio on Investment Projects”, outlining areas that could be of interest to investors.In the Fall of 1991 the JTB embarked on a “Strategic Business Plan” to set realistic targets for growth for the organization which was completed in 1992.On May 11, 1992 the JTB officially launched its scholarship programme with three scholarships named for Carrole Guntley-Brady, John Pringle and “Ma” Ewen. In that year, Lindo/FCB was also contracted locally to develop the Board’s marketing communications programme in Jamaica.To increase Jamaica’s offerings to visitors the JTB in October 1991 introduced “Caribbean Sports Marketplace” in an effort to improve “Jamaica’s ability to attract and stage sporting events.” In July 1992, the Board also opened a new Information Centre at the Norman Manley International Airport.As a result of continued recession and budgetary constraints, the JTB undertook further restructuring for greater efficiency. In 1992 the Board redefined its “main role and function to that of marketing only”, reduced the number of posts from 310 to 198 and eliminated “all posts and functions” unrelated to marketing. With the resignation of the Deputy Director of Local Marketing and Public Relations, a Deputy Director for Advertising and Public Relations assumed overall responsibility for the functions. Both the New York and London offices were re-located and the district sales office in Montreal was closed. The German office was also closed and a German representative appointed on October 1, 1992.The JTB was to face further challenges in June 1992 when the British Government issued a travel advisory on Jamaica. To stem the rise in crime and violence armed forces were deployed to the resort areas to ensure visitor safety.To augment its advertising and public relations campaigns and make its presence felt in the marketplace during 1992, the JTB brought some 1,195 travel agents to Jamaica on familiarization trips. The Board also sponsored “its first incentive familiarization trip for 12 top incentive … producers from Southern California in June,” and participated “Black Expo” organized for “suppliers of services to the black community.”Despite the challenges, total visitor arrivals for 1992 were 1,563,097, an increase of 16.6% over 1991. The 187,874 European tourists who were included in that number in that year catapulted Jamaica from being in the top eight, to “join Cuba and Martinique as the three most popular destinations for Europeans.” Stopover arrivals from both Latin America and Japan also grew to 16, 642 and 15,901 respectively. Visitor expenditure for 1992 was estimated at US$858 million.The JTB was to undergo further changes in 1992 with the departure of Director of Tourism Robert Stephens at the end of his contract in August. The organization “operated without a Director of Tourism between the period October 1992 and January 1994 and without a Board of Directors for the period March 1993 to August 24, 1993.” During this time, Raphael (Rae) Barrett performed the duties of Director.Highlights of this period include the removal of the JTB’s head quarters from Tourism Centre on Dominica Drive in Kingston to the ICWI Building at 2 St. Lucia Avenue, New Kingston; the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s launch of its “Where to Go” regional marketing programme; the JTB’s introduction of “Direct Mail” as a marketing tool in the United Kingdom and Europe; the privatization of Air Jamaica which was hailed by the JTB as a “positive move” and the closure of the JTB’s Product Department.The JTB also appointed a Senior Media Relations Manager and the “transition was made from the JTB’s Human Resource Development Department to a Public Education Unit.” This new department assumed responsibility for Public Awareness, the Library and the Information Desk. The Human Resource Department was transferred to Tourism Action Plan (TAP).In the area of promotions, the JTB welcomed the singer Ray Charles to Jamaica and the Johnnie Walker World Championship of Golf “broke 1992 records with a worldwide viewing audience of more than 400 million people in over 140 countries.”The JTB ended this era on a high note with a record breaking Winter performance of 329,718 stopover visitors set in 1993. Total visitor arrivals for the year was1,616,340 an increase of 3.4% over the previous year for another record year in Jamaica’s tourism. Stopover visitors from Europe reached and exceeded the 200,000 mark at 202,262. Stopover arrivals from both Latin America and Japan also climbed with the former at 26,745 for an increase of 61% and the latter at 18,660, an increase of 17%. Total visitor expenditure for 1993 was US$942 million.