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New London Gatwick To Montego Bay Flights Begin October 13

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British Airways’ announcement of new London Gatwick to Montego Bay flights, beginning October 13, is being hailed by local tourism stakeholders as a major step in Jamaica’s COVID-19 road to recovery.

Highly regarded as one of the most popular European air carriers, the new flights will be operated by World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World, and will depart on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

“Great news and great signal to the market,” was the reaction of Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.

“As we all know, prior to COVID-19, the European market, including Great Britain, was literally on fire where Jamaica was seeing a surge in new arrivals. Things came to a screeching halt in March, and is only now starting to show some real signs of life,” the Minister said.

Chief Operations Officer of Sandals Resorts International, Shawn DaCosta, said it is not surprising that major airline carriers are already looking towards a post COVID-19 era, where a country with a brand like Jamaica will continue to appeal to visitors.

“It will only get better as we go along,” he told JIS News.

For his part, Director of Tourism, Donovan White, said the move by British Airways can only be read as a sign of bigger things to come as “we continue our relentless march into life after the coronavirus”.

“We’re delighted that British Airways has announced a twice-weekly service to Montego Bay from London Gatwick from October 13, 2020, adding to its regular London Gatwick-Kingston service and further bolstering the number of flights from the UK to Jamaica,” the Tourism Director said.

sangster-mo-bay-670x450In the meantime, operators of the Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay, MBJ Airports Limited, said the decision by British Airways is both welcomed and appreciated and augurs well for Jamaica “during this period of recovery”.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shane Munroe, said MBJ is not only “pleased with the addition of this new service” but “we also view this as a significant achievement at a time like this and speaks volumes for destination Jamaica and MBJ”.

Diane Corrie, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for the Caribbean, said in a statement: “We’re excited to be extending our network once again between London Gatwick and the Caribbean with the start of this new flight to Montego Bay in October.”

“Customers whose flights were affected over recent months, and who claimed a voucher, can use it towards the flights,” she added.

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Designated Public Beaches In Jamaica To Be Upgraded This Fiscal Year

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Designated public beaches will be upgraded this fiscal year, to improve the overall experience of Jamaicans, says Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

Speaking at the official ceremony to break ground for the 700-room RIU Aquarelle in Coopers Pen, Falmouth, on April 20, Mr. Holness said this is being done to facilitate the Government’s commitment to good governance and the unwavering belief that Jamaicans should be able to enjoy the natural assets of their country.

He emphasised that public beaches must be protected, where the people can continue to enjoy a proud national pastime and where families and communities can have easy access.

“At a minimum, where applicable, each beach will be getting changing areas and restroom facilities, perimeter fencing, parking, gazebos, bandstands, children’s play areas, walkways, electricity, water, sewerage treatment facilities, among other amenities,” the Prime Minister noted.

“We never escape our history, and our history has not always been kind to the generations. But as the generations progress and we emerge as new leaders, we must ensure that we don’t make the mistakes of the past, that we don’t dispossess our people of their natural assets, and that as we pursue economic development, which we oftentimes conceptualise in buildings and roads, that we do not deprive the people of the use of their natural assets,” Mr. Holness added.

He said the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which has already begun consultations with several communities across the island, will be financing the beach-upgrade initiative “with at least one to be addressed in each parish”.

“Development must take place with Jamaica’s social context in mind,” the Prime Minister argued.

In the meantime, Mr. Holness said that despite the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) being withdrawn, Jamaicans should continue to make good decisions regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, noting that it remains a clear and present danger.

“We are strongly recommending that you continue to wear your mask, sanitise… maintain social distance and exercise a degree of caution. That vigilance [however] must be exercised by the individual,” the Prime Minister noted.

“Entities such as hotels, schools, and other institutions can maintain their own protocols while the Government will, from time to time, give an indication as to what the high-level threats are, and from that you can implement your own measures that you would require. It’s up to the individual to make responsible decisions,” he added.

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Jamaica Cops Award At World Expo Dubai 2020

“From the beginning, Jamaica was touted as one of the outstanding pavilions in the Expo and “a must-visit” pavilion. This award confirms that those accolades were well deserved. The pavilion focused not on looking at any one element of Jamaica, but as a composite,” Ms. Gardner said

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Jamaica has left World Expo Dubai 2020 with an impressive showing by exceeding its visitor target and copping one of the 51 available participant awards.

The Jamaica Pavilion, which was located in the mobility district of the World Expo grounds with around 70 other pavilions, was given the bronze award for its pavilion design, which utilised shipping containers.

With a target of hosting one per cent of total Expo visitors, Commissioner General of the Jamaica Pavilion, Essie Gardner, told JIS News that the target was not only met but exceeded, as Jamaica hosted more than 320,000 of the Expo’s over 24 million visitors.

World Expo 2020 Dubai officially came to a close on March 31, 2022 after six months of world-class experiences and bringing together people from all over the world to create, collaborate and innovate in shaping the future.

The Expo was hosted under the theme ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ and categorised countries and their participation into three main districts – sustainability, mobility and opportunity.

“From the beginning, Jamaica was touted as one of the outstanding pavilions in the Expo and “a must-visit” pavilion. This award confirms that those accolades were well deserved. The pavilion focused not on looking at any one element of Jamaica, but as a composite,” Ms. Gardner said.

“Our culture permeated the entire pavilion. Persons who came into the pavilion got a very fresh outlook on Jamaica, and that resonated with them. So, the award really gives us another fillip to celebrate the strength of our brand, so we can leverage that to increase business to the destination,” she added.

The participant awards recognised three aspects of the pavilions – architecture and landscape, exhibition design, and theme interpretation – and the judges had a pool of 200 pavilions to examine.

The award was announced and distributed during the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Day Awards Ceremony on March 30 in the Jubilee Park on the Expo grounds.

Ms. Gardner said this nod from the World Expo overseers, the BIE, will bring further attention to Jamaica as a transhipment port and boost the country’s efforts to become the fourth global logistics hub.

The award will even attract participants to the World Free Zones Organization Conference, scheduled for June in Montego Bay, St. James, she added.

The bronze award for exhibition was the ‘icing on the cake’ for the Jamaican delegation as the Green Isle of the Indies proved to be little but ‘tallawah’ in attracting Expo visitors to the Jamaica Pavilion.

Besides giving Blue Mountain Coffee samples in a culture that loves coffee, Ms. Gardner said there were some other aspects of the pavilion that set Jamaica apart and attracted visitors.

“One of the things that kept getting rave commentary was the fact that our team engaged the people who visited the pavilion. It wasn’t a matter of coming in looking at things and leaving, we engaged persons. We spoke to people, they saw us as authentic Jamaicans and that we wanted to share our love of country with them, so that was also a pull,” Ms. Gardner said.

“We also had gift items that we offered everyone, and the media visibility which we have been getting also brought us to the attention of the public, and so they wanted to see what all the commentary was about,” she noted.

From October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, visitors were able to experience the culture, cuisine and music of Jamaica while learning about the history, contribution to sports, tourism and business opportunities that reside in the island.

Source JIS

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Collective approach needed to strengthen tourism

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President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, says while tourism has suffered temporary fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it remains one of Jamaica’s most resilient sectors in driving economic growth and development.

Tourism stakeholders say a collective approach is needed to strengthen Jamaica’s tourism product, in order to provide an opportunity for significant expansion of the industry.

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, says while tourism has suffered temporary fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it remains one of Jamaica’s most resilient sectors in driving economic growth and development.

Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay, St. James, on August 31, Mr. Robinson argued that it is time for Jamaicans to “realise the importance of tourism” and partner with stakeholders to surmount the current challenges in a bid to harness tourism’s impressive potential to advance.

“Unless you are in tourism, you don’t really understand or appreciate the value that tourism brings to the country. It’s time for Jamaicans to wake up and realise how important tourism is. I agree that we have to diversify, but we also need to strengthen tourism,” the JHTA President said.

“How do we strengthen it? How do we make it better? It needs everyone’s support and buy-in and not just those who work in tourism.

Everybody needs to be a part of making tourism work in Jamaica,” he emphasised.

Mr. Robinson pointed out that as a sector that has inter-linkages, the tourism product is “our gift to the world… . It is a combination of everything”.

“Of all the islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica has so much to offer in regard to our competitors. It’s time now for the nation to realise the importance of tourism. Fifty per cent of our foreign exchange earnings come from tourism. It’s the food, it’s the culture, it is what we have that makes us special why everyone wants to come to Jamaica,” he noted.

For his part, Chairman of the COVID-19 Resilient Corridors, John Byles, said while there are calls to diversify the economy, Jamaica still has a competitive advantage on the world stage with tourism.

“Tourism over the last 20 years has proven – even with all of the naysayers – that with it the economy continues to grow. Is it that we need to diversify the economy? I would say absolutely yes, but that does not mean in any way we should marginalise an engine of growth that has a competitive advantage,” he noted.

For his part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Marc Melville, said tourism is one of the few industries in which we can compete globally.

“We’re not just competing domestically. We are competing against the world,” Mr. Melville said.

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Travel and Lifestyle

‘Rediscover Jamaica’ Campaign Encourages Jamaicans To Taste, See, Feel And Enjoy The Country’s Tourism Product

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The ‘Rediscover Jamaica’ campaign, which encourages Jamaicans to taste, see, feel, and enjoy the country’s tourism product, was officially launched on July 22.

The domestic marketing campaign also encourages persons living on the island to feel good again, by going out and enjoying the sights, scenes, and taste of the island.

Speaking at the official launch at The Jamaica Pegasus, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett urged persons to take full advantage of the deals that are being provided under the campaign.

“The timing is right for the Rediscover Jamaica Campaign. Summer is traditionally a time when we take day trips to long-time favorites or to those undiscovered places. Our upcoming August holidays provide the perfect reason to enjoy our accommodations, attractions, shopping, and transportation,” Mr. Bartlett said.

He reminded that persons must adhere to the safety protocols that have been established by the Government to protect themselves and families against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“I want you to take full advantage of them and all with the protocols being observed. The way that we manage in uncertainty, the way that we manage the unknown, is to follow the protocols that are known,” he said.

Mr. Bartlett pointed out that the sector’s protocol elements focus on sanitation, physical distancing, enhanced digital enablement, real-time health monitoring and reporting, rapid response, and staff training, among others.

He commended the Jamaica Tourist Board on the work that they have been doing in developing the Rediscover Jamaica campaign.

“This is not a knee-jerk reaction because of COVID, because we started this staycation years ago. We might not have moved it with the energy that we should, but this is a moment when the psychosocial impact of COVID is taking its toll, so we need a release and the wonderful products are all there, the glories of our culture await us. Let’s go out, rediscover Jamaica, enjoy the summer and be safe,” he said.

For his part, Director of Tourism, Donovan White, noted that more than 100 tourism partners are offering discounts and products to Jamaicans, so that they can enjoy the tourism product.

“Enjoy the products that we and our partners have built together that have served and provided such wonderful experiences for people from around the world. We want every Jamaican to feel that energy and product,” he said.

Mr. White informed that the offers range from as high as 50 percent off in some instances, and urged persons to “call their travel agents to book their staycation”.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, said a vast array of safety protocols that will guide employees and visitors have been implemented at hotels, resorts, and attractions, noting that this “will form part of the new normal as resorts and attractions are reopened safely”.

“We are ready to welcome our Jamaicans; our properties are ready; the employees are well trained on the safety protocols and will ensure that all our visitors… have a safe and wonderful experience,” he said.

Mr. Robinson noted that approximately 35 percent of the island’s resorts have resumed operations.

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Gov’t Building Capacity Of Small And Medium-Sized Tourism Operators To Increase Earnings

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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Government is working to build the capacity of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) to increase earnings from the sector.

He noted that while 80 percent of tourism worldwide is driven by SMTEs, “only 20 percent of the returns from tourism go to this particular sector”.

“We want to build the capacity of all local people here to manage their own supply arrangement, to market it themselves, to market through Jamaican networks so that more and more of the resources that will come from the sale of their products will remain in their pocket and in the economy of Jamaica,” Mr. Bartlett said.

He was speaking at the opening of the virtual staging of the ‘Christmas in July’ trade show at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (July 23).

Mr. Bartlett said the establishment of the Tourism Linkages Network is one of the means through which the Government has been investing in the capacity building of small and medium-sized enterprises, to bring about the required “re-balance” in the distribution of wealth.

“We are enabling our small providers to be more efficient in their production, to be able to produce more and to be able to produce at a higher quality so that they get a better response and [enhance] their capability to manage, better, their own process,” he said.

The linkages hub was created in 2013 to strengthen the relationship between tourism and other sectors of the economy and position the industry to generate higher growth rates in visitor arrivals and earnings.

The objective is to widen the net of people benefiting from tourism and create a sector that is more inclusive and offers increased opportunities for economic growth and development.

In the meantime, Mr. Bartlett informed that the Government is also improving local producers’ access to international markets, noting that the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has established a “very powerful marketing and digital platform to create space for content of all types”.

“[This is a] infrastructure that we are creating to provide opportunities for our local producers, small or large, to be able to have access to the markets of the world. We are excited about that, because that is how we are going to build the value chain, that’s how we are going to enable more and more of our people to be true beneficiaries of tourism,” he said.

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