Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett, M.P., and Jamaica’s Director of Tourism John Lynch officially opened the second annual Jamaica Product Exchange II (JAPEX II) earlier today at Secrets Resorts in Montego Bay. The event, which runs through October 24, has attracted 30 buyer delegates from Latin America and 25 buyer delegates from Europe.
Director Lynch opened JAPEX II by welcoming the participating buyers, together with more than 20 journalists from Latin America and Europe. He then turned the floor over to Minister Bartlett, who expressed confidence that, despite the challenges currently facing the tourism industry, Jamaica will end the year with a modest growth of approximately four percent.
“A key strategy as we seek to grow Jamaica’s tourism includes a focus on new markets,” said Minister Bartlett. “Market diversification is important for us and to that end, our ministry is working closely with the Foreign Ministry to review existing visa requirement legislation, which will make it easier to facilitate freedom of movement between persons from Latin America and Europe.”
Minister Bartlett pointed out that many of Jamaica’s important source markets in Europe have been showing signs of recovery, including Italy, Portugal and Germany. The JTB’s tireless work with travel agents and tour operators, and with consumer and trade media, will continue in these markets.
The JTB has also made strides in growing the Latin American market. Earlier this year the Director of Tourism and a JTB sales team visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The JTB has additionally sought to bolster its efforts through promotions in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina. Jamaica is well positioned to service the Latin American market, with its Spanish-owned hotels especially attractive to Spanish-speaking visitors. Spanish developers in Jamaica include : RIU, Fiesta Hotel Group, Grupo Pinero, Grupo Iberostar, AM Resorts and Royal DeCameron.
Another key to Jamaica’s success is its appeal as an investment location, clearly demonstrated by the numerous hotel developments in recent years. More than 700 rooms have been added in Montego Bay this year, boosting the total room count in the Negril to Ocho Rios corridor to 20,654. Additionally, with the Montego Bay Convention Centre set to open in January 2011, Jamaica now has the infrastructure necessary to host large-scale events and claim a valuable share of the estimated US$280 billion worldwide conventions and exhibitions market.