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Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett (left) and Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook (right) receive a replica of a Southwest Airlines aircraft from Ellen Torbert (centre), VP diversity and inclusion, South West Airlines, during the welcome reception for the airlines’ new service to Montego Bay.
Jamaica captured the spotlight at the 2017 Travvy Awards in New York, copping four gold awards. On hand to collect the awards (from left): Donnie Dawson, deputy director of tourism and sales at the Jamaica Tourist Board; Marcia Sinclair, district sales manager, Northeast USA; Christopher Dobson, business development officer, Northeast USA; Kenton Senior, business development officer, Northeast USA; and Mark Murphy, president and CEO of travAlliancemedia.

JAMAICA The destination in demand

DESTINATION JAMAICA is a hot topic on the lips of the world. From discerning travellers to industry leaders, the world is definitely taking notice of this Caribbean tourism Mecca. And being the hospitality epicentre that she is, the magnetism of the island continues to draw people to its captivating experiences.

"We started off the year with a bang, on an extremely high note, with an endorsement from Trip Advisor, which ranked Jamaica #12 on the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards' 'World's Best Destinations' list," outlined Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook. "Then there was the New York Times designation of Kingston among the top 52 Best Places to Go in 2017, listing the capital at #24. Flight Network, the largest Canadian-based online travel company, selected Jamaica as one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world and best in the Caribbean. While Meetings & Incentive Travel magazine's 2016 Incentive
Travel Survey ranked Jamaica the most popular Caribbean destination among Canadian meeting planners."


The accolades continue to tell the story of the demand for Destination Jamaica. The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International honoured the Jamaica Tourist Board with two Adrian Awards - a silver in the Special Events category and bronze in the Consumer Campaign category - for the organisation's execution of Jamaica House 2016 at the 31st Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The destination
also captured the spotlight at the 2017 Travvy Awards, copping four gold awards, namely, Best Honeymoon Destination, Caribbean/Bahamas; Best Culinary Destination, Caribbean/Bahamas; Best Tourism Board Overall; and Best Tourism Board, Caribbean/Bahamas.

But what is driving the popularity of the island as a preferred destination? Simply, it is the appeal of Destination Jamaica found in the product offerings that satisfy the desires of travellers who want to experience all facets of the island. Travellers love authenticity, and Jamaica offers experiences in their most organic form - natural, rustic, and unique. Not to mention the affable and charming disposition of the Jamaican people - they are second to none.

Data for January to March 2017 show a significant increase in visitor arrivals from all major source markets. For the period, 133,608 Canadians visited the island, a 6.2 per cent increase; and the US Midwest saw 96,171, or a 7.1 per cent increase, over 2016. South and southwest Europe, which includes Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and France, had the highest percentage increase with 17 per cent, or 20,925 visitors, while the island had 5,883 visitors from South America, a 39.5 per cent increase.

"The interest in Destination Jamaica is encouraging," noted Pennicook. "Our arrival figures for the first quarter show that we are making inroads to achieving our five per cent growth target for 2017. So far, we have already welcomed 25.7 per cent of the 2.3 million stopover target that we have set. People want to come to experience the music in its birthplace, the cuisine at a cook shop, to stand on one of our mountains and get lost in the views, to have rivers and beaches soothe their tired nerves, and to connect with our people, and it is our delight to make them feel at home because we are Jamaica, the home of all right," he added.

The outlook is great as there is continual increase in airlift to the island. In June alone, three airlines will be offering additional service and new routes to the island. On June 4, Southwest Airlines added a new route into Montego Bay, flying direct from Fort Lauderdale. Oberst Airline out of Portugal began its weekly charter service and Evelop Airlines, from Spain, will also fly into Montego Bay.

These add to the 'Jamaica buzz' that is permeating the hospitality airwaves. Each time a visitor says, 'there is just so much to enjoy, I need to come back,' or 'I was here on a business trip, but this time I am back with my family for vacation', or 'I am not ready to leave yet,' it reaffirms Jamaica's place as one of the most soughtafter vacation destinations.


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