Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has underscored the pivotal role which the Jamaican Diaspora will need to play in the Government’s marketing and promotional campaign in North American and the United Kingdom, over the next nine months. The US$10 million campaign, being spearheaded by the Tourism Ministry and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), kicks off on June 4 and is being undertaken to prevent Jamaica losing a projected US$350 million in earnings from the tourism sector, consequent on last week’s violence in West Kingston.
Additionally, the thrust aims to re-assure local stakeholders, as well as tour operators, agents and potential visitors in the key United States, Canadian and United Kingdom markets, that Jamaica remains a safe travel destination. These three countries account for up to 95 per cent of the island’s visitor arrivals. Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Bartlett, in arguing the Diaspora’s role, contended that, to a great extent, the group represented the “first contact” which many potential visitors will have with Jamaica. “If 90 to 95 per cent of our market is represented by those destinations, then 90 to 95 per cent of our Diaspora is, perhaps, in those three critical market areas,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He said that long before anybody decides to visit Jamaica, they have often met a Jamaican somewhere. It is at that moment that they would have formulated an opinion as to what Jamaica is and their curiosity is aroused, he added.In the same vein, Mr. Bartlett said negative developments could discourage these individuals, pointing out that significant effort would have to be made to generate or rekindle their interest.
In that regard the Minister voiced concern over, what he said were, some negative feedbacks emanating from the Diaspora regarding last week’s events in West Kingston, which he described as “unbelievable.”
“We have to put them right in terms of the communication…and the information flows. The Diaspora, for us, are great ambassadors or they can be great turn-offs… and at the moment we’re not happy with what we are getting from them. We’re going to have to go and engage them, so that they can become the great ambassadors for us that they have been in the past,” Mr. Bartlett said.