By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Editor
The Jamaica Tourist Board hosted 100 of its top selling Canadian travel agents to a week of fun in the sun earlier this month as a thank you for their part in helping the country exceed its goal of 300,000 visitor arrivals from Canada last year.
And to say it was a party is a bit of an understatement. There was everything from visits to some of the hottest attractions on the island to a day of games at Sandals Royal Caribbean, entertainment at some of the top hotels including the RIU and a cooking competition and a mixology contest at SuperClubs’ Breezes in Negril in which teams vied for top honours creating their versions of local dishes and mixing their favourite drinks.
Not to mention the swimming, the food – lots of it – and the accommodation at some of the best all inclusive hotels on the North Coast.
No wonder these people love Jamaica. They were treated royally. And, yes, the JTB knows how to throw a party. Equally, these Canadian travel agents also know how to party. And that they did with gusto.
The occasion was the first Jamaica Travel Jamboree, which is expected to be an annual affair, to not only thank the travel agents but to present them with awards for their loyalty and their efforts on behalf of this little piece of heaven in the Caribbean.
The travel agents came from across Canada, from the east coast to the west coast and all points in between. Of course, the majority, almost 63 per cent, came from Ontario.
The Jamaica Travel Jamboree was the result of a challenge thrown out by Jamaica’s tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, to Canadian travel agents to sell Jamaica as a premier tourist destination, not just for the amazing all-inclusive properties and their world class amenities, but for the unique attractions the country has to offer.
Bartlett set the goal of 300,000 visits for 2010, which would reflect a 70 per cent increase over the previous three years. The agents not only met his challenge but surpassed it with a total of 325,191 visits.
Air travel for the 100 top agents and their guests was provided courtesy of Air Canada Vacations; Signature Vacations/Sunwing Vacations; Sunquest/Thomas Cook, Transat Holidays and WestJet Vacations and accommodation by some of the best all-inclusive properties in Montego Bay including Sandals Resorts International, RIU Hotels Jamaica, SuperClubs, Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa, Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort and Sunset Beach Resort & Spa.
Other hosts included Chukka Caribbean Adventures and Half Moon Hotel where the closing event was held with an awards presentation at which Bartlett was present to personally thank the Canadian travel agents for being great ambassadors for the country and for rising to his challenge. He also promised to repeat the Jamboree next year if they meet his new challenge for 2011 of 375,000 visitors.
Bartlett took the opportunity – and rightly so – to thank the JTB staff, both at the Canadian office and those in Jamaica, for their dedication to the promotion of Jamaica and for their effort in making this Jamboree a reality. It could not have been an easy task, getting all these people and their guests from across Canada to Jamaica; coordinating with their airline partners and the resorts and other attractions in Jamaica and, of course, the ground transportation, especially since this is their first such effort. But they did it so well. Everything seemed to have gone off without a hitch.
What the Jamboree showed most though is that Jamaica and its tourist board are very serious about tourism and are prepared to do what it takes to get the job done, to be the number one tourist destination in the Caribbean. The hotel properties we visited are nothing less than world class; the adventures and attractions are professionally presented and operated and the staff – now that is another story – the Jamaican staff both at the hotels and the attractions are really top of the line. I can’t say enough about them.
The JTB’s motto is ‘Once you go, you know’ and they surely are not kidding.
Check out more Jamaica Jamboree photos by Arnold Auguste in our Photo Gallery.