The Jamaica Tourist Board ushered in the year 2012 with a new Board which assumed office effective January 30, following the General Elections of December 29, 2011 and the appointment of a new Minister of Tourism and Industry. Dennis Morrison would be the new Chairman with John Lynch in the position of Director of Tourism.
Always mindful of the volatility of the market, the rapidly changing nature of the industry as well as the need to constantly update its strategies, one of the JTB’s main objectives was to directly target consumers and trade professionals in an effort to heighten visibility and maintain market share for Jamaica.The Board’s theme for 2012 into 2014 was “The Power of Partnerships.”Activities for the period included sales calls and increased sales initiatives, press trips and familiarization tours; the staging of seminars both on and off line, public relations, advertising and promotions; and a strong online presence was sustained through various digital media platforms.On February 1, 2012 “the Jamaica Travel Specialist Programme, A One Love Travel Rewards Programme was launched in the USA and Canada. It was designed to reach travel agents through “online training courses and incentive programmes.” An vital marketing tool for the JTB,”The course focused on providing the participants with important information about the island, “how to sell Jamaica and be rewarded for increased bookings.” The agents were encouraged to participate and pass the final exam by February 15, as the first ten to do so would be eligible to win an all expenses paid trip to Jamaica. By the end of March 2013, there were some 8,000 graduates of the programme.On March 13, 2013 “the travel agent specialist on‐line One Love Rewards store was launched, giving agents an extra incentive to book Jamaica vacations.” Points earned on hotel room bookings would then be used to purchase Jamaica branded items from the store.Increased effort was also made to reach those travel agents who did not attend trade shows or seminars through Webinars, web-based interactive seminars, which allowed the JTB to maintain vital links with one of its key publics.As 2012 also marked the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence, the JTB used every opportunity to direct focus to the island, including the sharing of relevant information on “things Jamaican” on its website and social media platforms. The Board also forged stronger links with the Jamaican Diaspora through support of the many activities and events that were planned and staged to mark this important milestone.It was also the year of the London Olympics at which Jamaican athletes were once again expected to give an outstanding performance. Track and field star Usain Bolt’s “Pose,” “Speed,” “Stop” commercial was used to highlight Jamaica in the UK. Following the Olympics and the Jamaica team’s success, the advertisements were repeated online and generated close to 800,000 views.At home, the Tourism Awareness Unit continued its work to sensitize Jamaicans regarding the industry’s importance to the country’s economy and to encourage support for the initiatives of the JTB. The Unit’s outreach programme was sustained in schools through the Tourism Action Clubs which benefitted from the many talks, exhibitions and other activities of the JTB.Jamaica’s participation in the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Youth Congress competition resulted in the island taking first place. Jamaica also placed first in the FCCA’s Environmental Poster Competition.Much progress was made in the area of airlift to the island over the period 2012/2013.COPA Airlines increased its service to Jamaica from Panama with eight flights per week; four to Montego Bay and four to Kingston. This no doubt influenced the 50.9% increase in arrivals from Latin America that was experienced during the year. There was also extended air service from Paris and new service from Prague and Moscow resulting in a 400% increase or 3,245 visitor arrivals from Moscow; a 31% increases in arrivals from France for 6,418 visitors; and a 200% increase from the Czech Republic taking the figure to 697. The growth in the number of visitors from Continental Europe was also influenced by the increased presence of the JTB and its agents at trade and consumer shows in the region and the government’s waiving of visas for visitors from a number of countries in the region who would be staying in the island for less than 30 days.For the Asian market there was an overall 7.6% increase in arrivals. Significant progress was, however, made in the Chinese market which showed and impressive 23% increase in arrivals for the period. It was also the year that the “Peace Boat” made its 80th voyage which included a stop in Montego Bay on September 11, 2012. There were 900 Japanese passengers on board.Recognising the staggering growth in the use of social media, during the year the Board continued to enhance Jamaica’s online presence, incorporating social media into its advertising and other activities.
Facebook and Twitter promotions, for example, were used to launch the “Jamaica Mi Happy” videos, a part of the “Jamaica Mi Happy” initiative in which the JTB partnered with the JHTA.At the end of 2012, through the effort of the JTB, Jamaica had a presence on several social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. Jamaica’s 2012 “Blogger-sphere” campaign “was also recognized in the Gold category at the prestigious public relations SABRE Awards gala in New York City.”February 2013 saw the launch of the “integrated digital promotion” using the social media contest “Tweet Your Love,” which encouraged users to “tweet a message of romance” which would then be written in the sand in Jamaica “in real time” through the efforts of the JTB and DraftFCB. In 2012/2013 Jamaica again topped the million mark in cruise passenger arrivals with a total of 1,320,083, a 17.3% increase over the 1,125,481 recorded for the corresponding period in 2011. Of this number, the recently opened port of Falmouth contributed 586,578 or 44.4% from 135 cruise ship calls to take the number one spot from Ocho Rios, which was previously the port recording the highest number of calls.The Total stopover arrivals recorded for the period were 1,986,085 for an increase of 1.8% over the previous year. Estimated gross visitor expenditure in 2012 was approximately US$2.070 billion for a 3.0% increase over the estimated US$2.008 billion earned in 2011. Direct employment in the accommodation sub‐sector showed a 0.8% increase for 35,197 in 2012 over the 34,921 in 2011.The year 2013 was a record one for Jamaica’s tourism with the arrival of over 2,000,000 stopover visitors to the island for the first time in a calendar year. This was an increase of 1.1% over the previous year. Cruise passenger arrivals, however, declined by 4.2% with 1.2 million, the majority of whom (587,000 from 135 calls) disembarked at the Falmouth Port. Both the ports of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay recorded declines by 3.2% to 380,000 arrivals from 120 calls and 29.8% for nearly 238,000 passengers from 86 cruise calls respectively. Despite fluctuations, cruise arrivals would show an increase of 3.6% by April 2014.Estimated gross foreign exchange earnings were US$2.113 billion, an increase of approximately 2.1%. Average hotel room occupancy rate was 67.9%. There was a 3.6% decline in the number of persons employed directly in the accommodation sub‐sector from 35,197 in 2012 to 33,938 in 2013.The increasing challenges in the marketplace with growing competition, a sluggish global economy and the changing demands of travelers, underscored the need for Jamaica to forge strategic partnerships for the continued growth of the industry. The emphasis would continue to be placed on “The Power of Partnerships.”
There were ongoing initiatives with the Diaspora partners to woo second and third generation Jamaicans to the island. There was also a sustained effort to promote Jamaica’s Jewish heritage to entice members of the Jewish community to visit Jamaica. At home, the “Experience Jamaica” campaign continued in collaboration with the Board’s industry partners.A major project of the JTB’s in 2013 was the change in the global advertising strategy from the highly successful “Once You Go, You Know” focus to the new “Jamaica, Get All Right” campaign. This was intended to entice a new generation of travelers to the island and to “evolve Jamaica from a brand people know to a brand they feel.” The strategy was to highlight “Jamaica, the Home of All Right.” The new tagline was incorporated as part of a digital and social media campaign “executing a realtime photo stream on Facebook.” This garnered some 1500 new ‘likes’ and reached over 350,000 people.
Public relations and advertising collaborated to play a very important role in promoting the island through the participation of the Bobsled team at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Through a Twitter “chat” which was hosted between new and old fans, some 5,000,000 persons were reached and the team received extensive media coverage.The year 2014 also marked the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Japan and there were a number of activities to observe this important milestone. The JTB continued its drive to maintain visibility for Jamaica in the Chinese and Indian markets through the media, and representation at a number of trade shows and other promotional events. Promotion was also built around the game of Cricket, a major pull factor for the Indian market.Over the period there were increases in arrivals from the USA (1.1%); UK/ Europe (6%); the Asian market with just under 7% and an impressive 22% increase from Latin America. There was, however, a 1% decline from the Canadian market.Public relations initiatives between July 2013 and April 2014 generated more than: one billion media impressions in the USA; 60 million in Canada and 97 million in Latin America.Over the period 2012-2014, Jamaica and the JTB again received a significant number of awards. For the eight consecutive year, the JTB was named the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board at the World Travel Awards. Jamaica was also recognized as the World’s Leading Cruise Destination for the seventh time. Other awards included: World’s Most Romantic Destination; World’s Leading Tourism Development Project: Port of Falmouth (2013); Caribbean’s Leading Airport: Sangster International Airport, Jamaica; Caribbean’s Leading Destination; Caribbean’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre: Montego Bay Convention Centre, Jamaica; and the Caribbean’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination. Jamaica was also the recipient of the Excellence Award in Spain in recognition of its work in emerging markets, particularly in Russia and Europe.The JTB also received the Gold Adrian Award (2013) from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) “for public relations excellence” in the television category for “Revisiting Our Roots featuring TODAY show co-hosts Jenna Wolfe and Lester Holt.”Fully aware of the challenging environment and the shifting tides in world travel and tourism, the Jamaica Tourist Board remains committed to ensuring that brand Jamaica is at the forefront in the marketplace. It continues, along with its partners, to promote the diversity and unique qualities of the island so that the potential for growth can be realized and maximized for the benefit of all.