The year 2003 heralded increased changes in international travel as the world faced a new age characterized by “global terrorism,” and war in the Persian Gulf between the United States of America and Iraq became a reality. While the JTB devised strategies to counter the effects that this “war on terror” which began in March 2003, would have on the industry, the Board was also experiencing changes of its own as it again embarked on a programme of restructuring.
Following the General Elections of October 2002, a new Minister was appointed with portfolio responsibility for Industry and Tourism. Paul Pennicook assumed the Director of Tourism position, effective March 3, 2003. In 2004 the baton of Chairman of the JTB was passed to Dennis Morrison. Messers Morrison and Pennicook would continue in their respective positions until Basil Smith took over the Director’s chair on November 1, 2006. With the General Elections of September 3, 2007 a new Minister was appointed and as of October 25, 2007 John Lynch was selected as Chairman of the JTB with Earl Jarrett as Deputy.To maximize its effectiveness, the Board undertook a comprehensive review to “improve organizational structure, operations and efficiency.” The ultimate aim was to produce a “lean, aggressive, creative, collaborative and technology based” organization. The “main marketing functions” of the JTB were now “to be centralized in the Board’s Corporate Headquarters in Kingston”. Among the number of “key positions” introduced was a “specialist officer with responsibility for tour operators.”There was a reduction in the number of local JTB offices although a presence was be maintained in the resort areas. The Montego Bay office was “strengthened” and given the responsibility for “directing the activities of marketing personnel across the island”.The number of JTB offices overseas was also reduced to three with one each in the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom. In the USA, the office was located in South Florida to maintain important linkages with consumers and the trade. While some sales personnel were retained, they agreed to “operate from home.”
The JTB established a new sub-committee to assess projects related to special events to determine their suitability for the organization’s support, as with a more focused approach the decision was taken to “leave the matter of actual events development to our private sector partners.”In October 2003, the JTB once again changed public relations agencies following a review. “Ruder Finn” was appointed to lead the charge for the Americas while “Financial Dynamics International” (FDI) was appointed in the UK / Europe. The theme of the latter’s campaign was “Jamaica, Take Another Look.”Through the Ruder Finn led “Genius of Jamaica” campaign the opportunity was taken to highlight the island’s fine arts, music, literary and performing arts, cuisine, among other areas. The Genius of Jamaica campaign “sought to reach affluent markets; identify key niches, manage Jamaica’s reputation” and overall, showcase the best of Jamaica.At the same time, the Board maintained a high level of visibility in the marketplace through vigorous advertising, public relations and promotional campaigns in an effort to encourage travel to Jamaica. One of its main areas of focus was the Hispanic American market which was recognized as an important growth area for the island. Over 100 million viewers were exposed to Jamaica via Urban Latino TV (ULTV) in July of 2003 as the station was persuaded to shoot its pilot in Jamaica.During the last week of June 2003, radio stations from across North America with a listening audience of over 200 million were hosted for a ‘live’ radio remote from Ocho Rios. Forays were also made into the Dutch market, another area of promise for Jamaica.In expanding its “aggressive and targeted multi-media approach” the JTB for the first time used cinema advertising to reach an audience of over 7.4 million moviegoers in four major US cities during the months of August and September in 108 theatres with 700 screens.The Board also awarded a contract in March 2002 for the complete re-design of its website, which was re-named www.visitjamaica.com and launched March 20, 2003. The new website was now intended to become a “showpiece for Jamaica.” An Intranet portal was also opened for the JTB and this facilitated information delivery company-wide. Designed by the development firm, Motivo, the website was taken over by the Board, which in April 2004 entered an agreement with Independent Software Technology (IST) USA, Inc. to develop and implement a direct marketing campaign to boost tourist arrivals. They were expected to deliver over one million “unique visits to the JTB website with the goal of generating actual visits to the island” in two years.In its continued programme for small hotels, the JTB also facilitated an OAS / USAID sponsored “Small Tourism Enterprise Project Centre” by providing accommodations for this facility at the JTB Ocho Rios office.In 2003 the Marcella Martinez award was announced by then Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook in recognition of the tourism stalwart’s contribution to the promotion of the industry in the region.Another record year for Jamaica’s tourism was again achieved in 2003 when the island, for the first time in its history welcomed over one million cruise ship passengers. Stopover visitors numbered 1,350,285, a 6.6% increase over 2002 with total estimated earnings at US$1,336 million.During 2004, the JTB also completed its restructuring exercises. The new structure comprised four main offices headed by a Deputy Director (Miami, USA) and three regional directors (Toronto, Canada, London, UK/Europe and Montego Bay). Both the Director of Tourism and a Deputy Director continued to operate from the Board’s corporate headquarters in Kingston which now had three main departments: Corporate Services; Finance and Marketing.
Foote Cone Belding (FCB) retained the account as the JTB’s advertising agency with a three-year contract beginning on May 1, 2004.Crime and violence were major concerns and Hurricane Ivan which swept across the island in September 2004 prompted the JTB, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and other tourism partners to employ a number of crisis management strategies, including vigorous public relations, sales and marketing campaigns to overcome these challenges.Through its award-winning “Once You Go … You Know” campaign, which would continue until 2013, the JTB sought to respond to the needs of modern visitors for whom Jamaica’s art, culture, cuisine, and unique experiences as a people, could provide the total vacation experience many sought. The island’s first major online advertising campaign was launched n November 2004 to “build out the Once You Go … You Know” campaign. Digital units were placed on Expedia and Travelocity and expanded to other sites in January and February 2005.In 2004 the “revamped” and re-launched “Meet the People” programme became central to the marketing of “Undiscovered Jamaica,” a programme through which the JTB also promoted the island’s rich diversity and uniqueness.Plans were also laid for the JTB’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2005-2006 as this milestone was seen as an opportunity to launch major sales and promotional initiatives for the period.In an effort to encourage visitors to re-think their concept of the island, Jamaica’s advertising campaign platform in 2004 emphasised the message, “Jamaica offers so much more than sun, sand and sea.”
Seeking to make inroads into the In Latin American market, the JTB appointed Global Marketing and Sales (GMS) to represent them in the areas of marketing, sales and public relations in the region. Aggressive sales, public relations and marketing tactics were also employed in Canada and the UK/Europe to increase awareness, improve Jamaica’s image and heighten its profile.There were also initiatives to create a more visible footprint for Jamaica’s tourism in the Asia through the revitalization of the Japanese market and a more concentrated endeavour in China. In Japan, Marketing Garden was employed to position Jamaica as a “compelling choice” for travelling Japanese; while in China, Jamaica was granted “Approved Destination Status” in February 2005, paving the way for more focused and persistent initiatives.The work in Japan was rewarded with success in 2004, when for the first time since 1995; there was a boost in arrivals with 4,430 visitors recorded for an increase of 5.9 % when compared to the 4,182 in 2003.There were also initiatives to grow the Caribbean market and in this regard, travel agents from the Caribbean, including Jamaica, were for the first time targeted for the annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) trade show. Twenty attended, of which ten were Jamaicans.Jamaica also hosted the Caribbean Hotel Association’s (CHA) Caribbean Marketplace, considered the “most important tourism marketing event of the year for the region, in Montego Bay in January 9-11, 2005 for over 2, 000 buyer and supplier delegates. It was the second time the event was held in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean and the first time since 1985.Growth in stopover arrivals was also recorded for UK (7.9%); from the European region (10.7%); and the Caribbean (9.4%). However, there was a decline of 2% in the Latin American market.While total stopover arrivals for 2004 grew by 4.8% to 1,414,786, there was a decline in cruise ship passenger arrivals by 2.9% for a total of 1,099,773 over the 1,132,596 of 2003. Despite this decline, 2004
marked the second time in Jamaica’s history that cruise passengers exceeded the one million mark. Other records were broken for that year with hotel room occupancy increasing by 3.5 percentage points to 61.4% over the 57.9% in 2003, making it the first time since 1995 that hotel room occupancy averaged in the 60’s.Gross visitor expenditure in 2004 amounted to US 1,437 million for an increase of 6.4% over the US$1,351 million for 2003. There was an increase of 1.6% in direct employment in the tourism sector over the period to 30,999 over the 30,512 recorded in 2003. In 2005/2006 the Jamaica Tourist Board marked its golden anniversary as a leader in Caribbean tourism. The celebrations started with the unveiling of the JTB’s 50th anniversary logo and a media event in Kingston on April 5 as well as other activities across the island including a 50th anniversary Golf Invitational in October 2005. A “Jamaica Night at the Appollo” was hosted by then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to which a number of United States government, industry, media, trade and other officials were invited.The Board continued to heighten its visibility through various initiatives including an extended “Genius of Jamaica” public relations campaign aimed at enhancing the profile of the national carrier Air Jamaica; increasing awareness and boosting visitor arrivals.In August 2005, tourism officials undertook a number of marketing strategies following “five consecutive monthly declines as well as reduction in the fall season forward bookings that threatened the projected 8% increase in visitor arrivals.” This was also a year for hurricanes. As part of the response, there was a re-launch of Air Jamaica’s airfare promotions which was tied to the JTB’s 50th anniversary marketing strategy and the fly-in of 1,000-2,000 travel agents from the USA to Jamaica.With the increased effort, history was created in 2005 with the USA recording its first ever millionth visitor to Jamaica. There was a total increase of 6.2% from the American market with 1,058,317 visitors making the USA Jamaica’s largest inbound market by arrivals.Overall, the tourism market rebounded to produce total stopover arrivals in 2005 of 1,478,663 for an increase of 4.5% over the 1,414,786 of 2004. Gross visitor expenditure for the year was an estimated US$1,545 million for an increase of 7.5% compared with the US$1,437 million earned in 2004.
With Paul Pennicook demitting the Director of Tourism office in June 2006, Donald Dawson was appointed to act in the position from June 1, 2006 – October 31, 2006. Basil Smith was subsequently appointed on November 1, 2006.The year also saw changes in the Board’s public relations operations for the UK and Ireland with McCluskey International succeeding Financial Dynamics International (FDI) as the JTB”s public relations agency with a three-year contract spanning March 1, 2007 – February 28, 2010. The main focus of McCluskey’s campaign, “Discover Your Own Jamaica … Discover Yourself in Jamaica” was to attract new visitors and encourage repeat visits to the island.The growth pattern continued as 2006 was also a “phenomenal year” in tourism. May to December marked the first time in any summer period that stopover arrivals surpassed the one million mark with 1,079,071, an increase of 12.4% over the 960,116 for the summer of 2005. This growth was attributed to a number of factors including: additional air seats from new airlines to the island; expansion into new routes by existing carriers; the new hotel rooms that came on stream during the latter half of 2005 and the fact that the active hurricane season re-directed additional visitors to Jamaica.Positive growth was also recorded in the Canadian market with an increase of 31.4%; the USA market with an increase of 12.5% and 70% of market share; the UK with an increase in arrivals of 9.5%; the Caribbean with an 11.4% increase and Latin America, which after a five year decline, saw visitor arrivals increasing by 3.7% moving from 8,428 in 2005 to 11,101 in 2007. The improvement in arrivals from Latin America was partially credited to the presence of the new Spanish hotels on the island. Arrivals from Japan, however, showed a decline of 12.8% compared to 2005.To increase its presence in the Asian market, the JTB continued its association with China Business Network whose services were hired in China in 2005. In 2006, the JTB also participated, for the first time, in the World Travel Fair in Shanghai from March 30 – April 2 and the Beijing International Travel and Tourism Market from April 2-5.Overall, there was another record performance in visitor arrivals in 2006 as Jamaica had its best year ever with 200,242 more stopovers than in 2005 for a total of 1.68 million stopover arrivals, a 13.5% increase over 2005. There was also a 17.7% increase in cruise passenger arrivals with 1.336 million against the 1.136 in 2005. This marked the fourth consecutive time that Jamaica recorded over a million cruise passengers. Estimated gross visitor expenditure was US$1.871 million, a 21.1% increase over the previous year.This growth was attributed to intensified sales, marketing and public relations activities as well as attempts to make greater inroads into new markets including India, China and Ireland. The 2007 staging of the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, with the opening ceremony scheduled for Jamaica, also provided marketing opportunities for the island such as the “Jamrock Meets Shamrock” initiative in Ireland.
To improve cruise ship passenger arrivals, the Port Authority of Jamaica in November 2006, signed a five-year contract valued at US$16.5 million with Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited (RCCL) which guaranteed that the RCCL would provide a minimum of 2.3 million cruise passengers to Jamaica over the next five years.In June 2006 the Freedom of the Seas, the world’s largest and most modern cruise ship made its inaugural visit to Jamaica with a stop in Montego Bay.The period 2007/2008 was not without its obstacles. The continuing presence of international terrorism, a global recession, fuel shortages; the introduction of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), “a passport requirement for travel to the USA that affected US residents and citizens”; the rise in crime and violence; hurricanes and the outbreak of Dengue Fever and Malaria locally, were major concerns that urged the JTB, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and other tourism partners to employ a number of crisis management strategies.The General Elections on October 25, 2007 also ushered in a new government. John Lynch was appointed Board Chairman with Earl Jarrett as Deputy. JTB also undertook another review of its organizational structure and staffing in 2007.Jamaica’s first ever mobile campaign was launched in 2007 with weather.com and in July 2007 the JTB launched the Tourism Information Publishing site (TIPS), a new information portal created to provide tourism related information and facts on the JTB to be accessed at www.jtbonline.com. The JTB’s official site www.visitjamaica.com was also rebuilt and re-launched in 2008.In May 2007, Jamaica became the first destination outside of the USA to host the Annual Incentive International, bringing 160 top incentive buyers to Montego Bay. The celebration in the early part of 2008 of the 100th anniversary of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, as well as the visit in March 2008 of HRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall provided promotional and publicity opportunities for Jamaica.With crisis and issues management strategies in place and the implementing vigorous sales, marketing and public relations campaigns; growth in the accommodations sub-sector and improvement in airlift, Jamaica would, by the end of 2007/2008, better its 2006 figures for stopover arrivals.There was significant growth in some emerging markets with a 160% increase in arrivals from India; 12.8% from Europe; 9.6% from Latin America and 12.5% from the Caribbean. Overall, stopover arrivals for 2007/2008 increased by 1.1% to reach 1,696,931 although cruise passenger arrivals declined by 11.8% to 1,179,504.By the end of 2007, the tourism sector provided direct employment for an estimated 34,834 persons over the 33,598 recorded for 2006. Estimated visitor expenditure was US$1,910 million, a 2.1% increase over the previous year. Over 2,000 hotel rooms were added between 2004 and 2007.From 2003-2007 the JTB /Jamaica’s leadership and performance in Caribbean tourism were recognized with numerous awards in various areas of the industry. In 2006, for example, Jamaica was named the World’s Leading Cruise Destination at the 13th annual World Travel Awards held in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This marked the first time in the history of the awards that this special honour was being conferred on Jamaica. Over the period, Jamaica was also repeatedly recognized as the Caribbean’s Leading Destination; the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination; and the JTB was awarded for being the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist and Convention Bureau.In over 50 years of operation, a resilient and creative JTB, one of the most respected tourist boards in the business, consistently set high standards for Jamaica. Despite the vicissitudes of the industry, the Board helped to make tourism a leading contributor to the Jamaican economy and brand JAMAICA one of the most recognised in the industry, with the island among the world’s most popular warm weather destinations.