The 29th Jamaica Product Exchange — considered the most important business generator for Jamaica’s tourism industry — is currently underway in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“Japex is the our major marketplace which creates an opportunity to meet with our tour operators and hotel partners,” Angella Bennett, regional director, Canada for the Jamaica Tourist Board told PressToday on location in the Caribbean destination. “It is particularly important to the Canadian market as it will be a competitive year for the destination against the strong growth of the US to Jamaica.”
Presented by The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Jamaica Tourist Board, this year’s show features 81 buyer companies with 117 delegates and 91 supplier companies with 220 delegates.
Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, kicked off the opening ceremony at the Montego Bay Convention Centre a US$20,000 donation towards hurricane relief efforts in The Bahamas through the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCM), one of the first international organizations dedicated to providing resources and support to tourism-dependent nations around the world.
“Many of our industry partners are doing their part to contribute to the recovery efforts in The Bahamas. In addition our Minister of Tourism, the honourable Edmund Bartlett has been at the forefront of efforts to mobilize support for the recovery efforts through the UNWTO and the GTRCM,” he said. “In this regard, the JHTA would like to make a financial donation of US$20,000 through the Global Tourism Resilience Centre. It is our hope and prayer that the resources being channeled to The Bahamas will help safeguard the health and welfare of the residents and contribute to the rebuilding of the country in the shortest possible time. This is Caribbean solidarity.”
JAPEX connects wholesalers, tour operators and travel agents with Jamaica’s leading tourism suppliers over two days of pre-scheduled appointments and face-to-face business negotiations.
“Attending Japex is key twofold: we come to show our support to this incredible destination and it offers us the opportunity to meet with our key tour operator partners to discuss how to grow the business here,” said Rose Cosentino, vice-president, Sales – Canada for Playa Hotels & Resorts.
Donovan White, director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board noted that as of August, stopover visitors reached 1.87 million, an increase of 9.1% over 2018. Although cruise visits are down largely due to itinerary changes made by major cruise lines, they project an increase in stop-over arrivals of 7% or 807,796 for the remainder of the year, “which would end the calendar year 2019 with 2.68 million arrivals – an increase of 8.4% over 2018.”
As for the Canadian market, White expects the figures to remain similar to last year with just under 400,000 visitors.
“The growth of Canada is heavily dependent on increased airlift, increased room stock on the destination and at the right price point,” said Bennett. “Jamaica has added almost 1,000 new rooms in 2019 and 2020 and beyond Jamaica will witness the largest growth in hotel rooms ever with the expansion of existing properties and the construction of new ones.”
Some of the latest development includes the 219 room AC Hotel by Marriott Kingston, which opened in June, the RIU Ocho Rios, which underwent a complete refurbishment and will reopen this month with 45 new family rooms, the Oceans by H10 development in Trelawny, set to be a 1,000-room property, 500 of which are scheduled to be open by November.
The Government of Jamaica has also finalized the sale of lands in St. Ann for a major project with Karisma Hotels & Resorts.
“We are always energized and fired up share abroad the gem that is Jamaica, because we live it, because we love it and because we believe in it,” said White. “With the development of our new brand marketing campaign readying for launch October 2019, we are extremely upbeat about a strong finish to 2019 and a very strong start to 2020.”
1) Donovan White, director of tourism, and Angella Bennett, regional director, Canada for the Jamaica Tourist Board
2) The panelists for the media breakfast at JAPEX 2019
3) Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association
4) Miss Universe – Jamaica
5) Rose Cosentino, Vice President, Sales – Canada for Playa Hotels & Resorts.
6) Omar Josephs, national manager of industry relations, Unique Vacations (Canada) Inc.
7) Gary Sadler, senior vice president of sales, Unique Vacations, Inc.
8) Tarrus Riley at the closing party at Sandals Montego Bay
9) Part of the trade show floor at JAPEX 2019