Last year was a record-breaking one for Jamaica visitors. But the island’s tourism minister says the future of Caribbean travel lies in cooperation, not competition.
In an address to the Unique Vacations Inc. Global Sales Conference in Ocho Rios, The Hon. Edmund Bartlett said UVI - an affiliate of the worldwide representative for Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts – is helping bring added exposure and greater opportunities for Jamaica. And that means more arrivals and more earnings.
“It (also) means more business, more jobs, and more growth,” he said.
Bartlett said it was a year of record-breaking travel in Jamaica; four million visitor arrivals in a single year (2023) and 10 consecutive quarters of economic growth, reducing the island’s debt to GDP from 149% to 74%.
As powerful as those numbers are, Bartlett said innovation and collaboration will be the driving force of ongoing success in the Caribbean.
Echoing the words of Barbados Prime Minister at the 2023 CHTA conference, Mia Motley strongly advocated all Caribbean stakeholders take a more assertive approach to the area’s economic recovery, “ensuring growth for all”.
Bartlett emphasized cooperation among Caribbean nations: “Our way forward in the tourism industry is to remove this sense of competition that has characterized our process over time, and replace it with a nice new word called co-petition. We must now represent a future of co-peting with each rather than competing with each other.”
Unique Vacations, Inc. (UVI) launched “The Year of More” at an energizing 2024 global sales conference designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the advisor community and reinforce its crucial role within the ecosystem of tourism for the Caribbean at large.
The first of its kind since 2019, the event was held between Sandals Dunn’s River and Sandals Ochi, and united Caribbean government officials, Sandals Resorts executives and more than 200 members of Unique Vacations global sales force.
A future-focused business session unfolded at Sandals Ochi on January 5th with a series of inspiring speeches from Bartlett and The Hon. Carlos James, Minister of Tourism for Saint Vincent and The Grenadines. They were joined by UVI and Sandals Resorts International (SRI) executive leadership, including SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart, who addressed a captivated audience, reflecting on the brands’ foundation and its continued commitment to supporting travel advisors while sharing insights and strategic directions for the future.
“We sit here today on 42 years of legacy – 42 years of a clear runway of opportunity to be the company that is the game changer to rewrite the future history books of what Caribbean tourism is going to look like, and that is what Sandals 2.0 reflects and represents,” said Stewart. “We are committed every day to you and your craft – to doing things that are monumentally bigger than Sandals. This is an ecosystem of Caribbean tourism that only triumphs if we function together as one.”
James, Minister of Tourism for Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, travelled to Ocho Rios to attend the conference, where much of the buzz and focus was on Sandals Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, opening on 27MAR. Bringing forward the unique ‘soul’ of his island home and its authentic alignment with Sandals, James reiterated a joint commitment to build out a tourism sector that is “unique and amazing.”
He also hinted at new direct airlift coming soon that will help people to discover an authentic Caribbean island that is not commercialized, while finding avenues to support and empower local communities.
More in 2024 - and Beyond
Looking ahead and building off the theme of ‘more in 2024’, Stewart highlighted upcoming innovations across the Sandals and Beaches brands, honing in on the design, service, and accommodation innovations across the portfolio.
“Everything that we are doing as hoteliers is in the relentless pursuit of finding the best of the best in this part of the world,” said Stewart. “No place on God’s planet is more interesting, more enticing, more relaxing, more soulful, or more charming than this archipelago. It is our job, together, to connect the dots to get the travelers of the world to choose us – to choose the Caribbean.”
A Priceless Partnership
Gary C. Sadler, Executive Vice President of Sales and Industry Relations at UVI, lauded travel advisors for their unwavering loyalty, recognizing the impact of the region’s most committed sales force.
“The biggest part of what we have is our travel advisors, and the most profound thing that Unique Vacations can do on behalf of Sandals Resorts is work hand in hand with these trusted colleagues day after day – because whenever the going gets tough, it is always travel advisors who are there to rescue any hotel brand there is in the world.”
In true Sandals fashion, a dazzling award-show gala brimming with local flair kicked off the night of January 6th, where awards were handed out to valuable sales team members from across various regions.
The sales team from Unique Vacations Canada were honoured as follows:
Guy Archambault – Business Development Manager, Montreal/Northern Quebec
Social Media Award – Canada
Robert Smith – Business Development Manager, Eastern Ontario
Outstanding Sales Achievement – Canada
Teresa Villanueva – Inside Sales Manager
Outstanding Team Player – Canada
Sandra Brousseau – Business Development Manager, Quebec (East & Central) and Atlantic Canada
BDM of The Year – Canada
Winston Chang, Business Development Manager, BC, Saskatchewan & The Yukon was honoured on global level and was named winner of the Global Award of Excellence.
A private event at the Rio Chico villa capped off the Global Sales Conference 2024 with the event coming to a close on 08JAN.