Genesis of the event (Part 1)
'More small hotels were added to the
Negril landscape and the business grew to where the operators were
contracting large blocks on Air Jamaica.'
Jamaica's venture into Spring Break was made in early 1980. Sunburst
Holidays, a key special event tour operator to Jamaica, had success
at packaging low price vacations to Negril in triple and quad accommodations
to the student market. Then, the largest hotel was the Sundowner.
Only a couple hundred students came per week.
There was no formal programme; beach, Red Stripe beer and local
entertainment were sufficient.
Spring Break tour operators, Student Travel Services and Sun Splash
Tours that specialised in the segment emerged and two companies
joined Sunburst Holidays selling packages to Jamaica and the market
More small hotels were added to the Negril landscape and the business
grew to where the operators were contracting large blocks on Air
Jamaica and running their own charter programmes. The JTB was forced
to look at the segment as viable even at the dissatisfaction of
hoteliers that felt the students were taking up scarce seats needed
from more affluent tourists in the middle of the winter season.
Spring Break students were utilising the small hotel rooms of Montego
Bay and Negril and became a segment that qualified for JTB marketing
The popular destinations then were the Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados;
later Cancun was developed in Mexico and domestic U.S.A. Bermuda
decided to drop their interest in the market segment because of
the nature of the client. Bahamas still has a small programme.
Jamaica began to be a featured destination in the '90s with Negril
having the strongest appeal and Montego Bay much less because of
the limited small hotels, and having only beach clubs to work with,
namely Cornwall beach.
The call then and still is now, was for more activities to appeal
to students to grow the business. In order to develop, Jamaica needed
a programme for the three big weeks of Spring Break in March, with
music concerts and night-time activities that can be promoted alongside
the marketing Spring Break overseas.
daytime beach parties
The JTB invested through the special events department then, to
cooperate with D&G Red Stripe brand to have daytime beach parties
on Tuesdays in Ocho Rios, Wednesdays in Montego Bay and Thursdays
in Negril free of cost to students with identification cards. This
was the first structured spring break event schedule.
These were conducted successfully as tours were planned from Montego
Bay and Negril to go to the beach party locations in the respective
resorts. Dunn's River Falls beach, Cornwall beach and Negril Tree
House beach. Beach parties were held 2- 6 p.m. in the afternoon,
with games, live reggae band, sound system music and contests. Similar
programmes were repeated in Montego Bay and Negril.
In our next publication, we will look at resistance to the market.