Confident and ready to grow from Canada
(Photo above: White and Bartlett)
It appears that the 2020 winter season is shaping up rather nicely for Jamaica.
That was the straightforward message delivered by the island’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, director of tourism, Donovan White, and the regional director, Canada for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Angella Bennett when they dropped by the offices of Canadian Travel Press earlier this month.
Asked about the purpose of the trio’s visit to Canada, White told CTP that: “It’s the time of year when we come and spend time with our trade partners to see how business is going and to get a better sense of any challenges that they may be facing in the marketplace and find ways to work with them to deepen the relationship even more.”
And, as for any challenges that might be lurking in the shadows, White smiled before admitting that Jamaica’s trade partners are telling him that “they want it to get colder faster.”
More seriously, White said that based on the conversations the group has been having with its Canadian partners, there’s “no troubling news.”
“We have commitments of over 21,400 more seats this coming winter [2019-2020] over last winter [2018-2019] and most, if not all partners, are currently pacing ahead of last year’s booking pace for Jamaica. So, we’re fairly confident that we’re in a good position to continue to grow the arrivals from the Canadian market for the 2019-2020 winter tourist season,” he said.
Jamaica’s director of tourism also had some good things to say about travel agents, telling CTP that: “Our travel agent partners remain one of, if not the most important part of the travel cycle.”
White pointed out that: “Even in an increasingly penetrated technology-driven world, the relationship between the consumer and their trusted travel professional is still one that is seeming-
ly kept near and dear because we have found that not only have we continued to grow our cadre of Jamaica One Love travel professionals around the world, but we see the trend analysis
numbers suggest to us that still better than 50% of travel around the world is still being organized and planned by travel professionals.”
For White that means that travel consultants “play a very critical role because even after the traveller researches his own ideas and thoughts and wishes in the technology space, they then turn to the travel professional for guidance in terms of which choices to make and where to go and what to do and how much to pay for it.”
And he continued: “There is a level of dependency still in the travel world that relies on the travel professional – the travel agent – to provide guidance and direction and counsel in terms of where are the hotspots to go and what to do.”
As a result, Jamaica’s director of tourism told CTP that: “We treasure the relationship that we have with our Jamaica One Love travel professionals. We treat them like true partners. We provide a critical amount of training – destination training, fam trips, opportunities to engage, webinars, etc. We even go as far as to create what we call a retail window – an online retail window – where for every booking they make for Jamaica, they get points and those points they can use to buy things from our branded window of items, which they then turn around and give as gifts to their travel clients.”
And White added: “It is a symbiotic relationship between us and the travel agent community that is one that we continue to nuture and treat with kid gloves. Because again, they are the trusted advisor of the travelling population, and we want to make sure that every time one of our travel professionals is engaged they are well-informed and well-endowed with information to pass on Jamaica as the best choice for travel.”
Clearly that’s exactly what they’ve been doing, as White notes that arrivals to the island were up by 8.5% though the end of September, while revenues grew by 10.5% during the same period.
Half a million in reach
“Those are fantastically great numbers, and we are extremely grateful to our partners who continue to support the destination positively and continue to work with us through challenging times to know growth years and are eagerly looking forward to working with us well into the future.”
From Canada, White said that: “We have really enjoyed a good year and are looking to close on a very strong year from the Canadian market [in 2019].”
He told CTP: “We are starting to grow again. We still have lofty goals of getting to the half a million mark in visitors from Canada. We believe that if we continue to grow the way we’re growing with the support of our Canadian partners we’ll be able to hit these numbers by the end of next year and in to 2021.”
By the end of 2019, White believe that about 420,000 Canadians will have visited Jamaica, leaving it only about 80,000 visitors short of the half million mark, leading him to conclude: “We have those targets front and centre; and the team here in Canada is led by Angella Bennett and is truly focused and doing a great job ensuring that we get to our numbers,” he said.