Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Jan 21, 2019

Jamaica has big plans for Canada in 2019


The Jamaica Tourist Board’s director of tourism, Donovan White was in Canada in mid-January to meet with the Canadian travel trade, explaining: “We always do these check-ins with our partners that look after business for us here – the airlines, the tour operators – to ensure that we’re doing the right things and they’re seeing the results; and that we continue to do the things we do in terms of creating a great destination for vacationers.”

One of the more obvious questions that White was asked during that visit was who would be replacing Philip Rose as the Canadian regional director for the JTB.

Said White: “We haven’t finalized it yet. We are in the recruitment process, and we are doing a tremendous amount of due diligence, ensuring that the person that replaces Philip is somebody who’s going to be able to fill some very big shoes because Philip was a fantastic member of our team, who did an outstanding job here in Canada, but we are sure that we will find an able person to takeover very soon.”

He noted that, while that search is on, Dan Hamilton – currently district sales manager with the Canadian team – will be the acting regional director for the JTB here.

White also said that: “As we continue to make our structures more robust and more coordinated so that we can manage our efforts more efficiently, Donnie Dawson [who accompanied White on his trip to Canada and is deputy director, tourism sales] will supervise the Canadian team and help us to grow and build the relationships that we have here in Canada with our partners.”

He added that the move “also enables us to bring the team closer together. It allows for us to be able to utilize the benefits of having professionals spread across all the Americas that can bring to bear ideas, concepts, executions that all parts of the Americas, including Canada, benefit from.”

Donovan White

Asked for an update on how Jamaica performed in 2018, White told Canadian Travel Press: “We’ve come through what could have been a much worse year. We grew this year overall in terms of the destination in stopover arrivals by some 5.5%. Canada declined slightly, but we believe that we are on the cusp of doing some new things with our partners to re-engage the Canadian market and excite Canadians to come to Jamaica all over again.”

He said: “We don’t have final numbers yet, but as of right now, it’s [Canada] just below flat. I’d say about 1.5% down on 2017. So, it’s not a huge fall-off, to be very honest, but it certainly doesn’t meet our aspirations of having growth in 2018.”

And White agreed that the emergency measures that the Jamaica government implemented in early 2018 did have an impact.

“It was, I would say, the most significant issue. Usually when you have those kinds of obstacles in the early part of any year, recovering is always an uphill task.”

However, he said: “The team here in Canada did a fantastic job in terms of allowing us to deliver the numbers that we did have [from Canada]. And as much as they didn’t meet our growth goals, we believe that if we continue to work at the challenges that prevailed that we will have a fantastic 2019.”

As for 2019, White said: “We believe that with the work that we’ve done during 2018 to lay the foundations for growth in 2019 and 2020, our expectation is that we will grow in the region of about 9% to 10% in 2019.”

He continued: “We are doing the work that is required to ensure that we get all of our plans in place and activated and properly supported in Canada to ensure that we drive that growth. We believe that the destination has continued to provide vacation seekers with a strong option for warm weather climates, and so, we believe we can take advantage of that.”

And he thanked Jamaica’s air partners out of Canada for providing strong lift, commenting: “I want to thank them for standing by Jamaica and continuing to provide the commitments of airlift to Jamaica. Now, we have to work together to ensure that we can get the travellers into those seats and into Jamaica.”

In terms of his message to Canadian agents, White said that: “Canadian agents have always been truly supportive of the Jamaican effort, and so, the message to them is that we are ready and we’re engaged, so we want them to get onboard. Any challenges that are out there, our team is ready and able to interact with them; get in touch; reach out to us, and if there’s anything missing, we’re prepared to fill those voids. But beyond that, we’re also reactivating our advertising presence in Canada, so the agents and travellers can look out to see more advertising and more marketing from Destination Jamaica in 2019.”

As for the takeaway from all of this, the JTB’s director of tourism told CTP: “Like I said, we’ve been on a mission, the Minister especially, of ensuring that we are always providing the best opportunities for vacationers to have a wonderful experience in Jamaica and everything that we do today in preparation for that are coming to bear fruit. And we hope that in 2019, if you haven’t been to Jamaica, you’ll make it your place for your vacation; and if you have been, we want you to join the 42% of visitors who come back to Jamaica to spend their vacations.”