It was a Friday to remember for a lot of reasons; great workshops with suppliers, coconut drinks, a swinging band, prizes galore, dancers, and a remarkable mentalist.
The Jamaica Travel Expo & Destination Weddings Showcase went off without a hitch on 10NOV in Brampton, Ontario. Similar events were held earlier this week in Calgary and Montreal.
Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Canada, for the Jamaica Tourist Board, told a packed room of advisors that Jamaica needs agents to reach its visitor goals.
“We’ve had an incredible rebound,” she said. “From January to August visits from all markets were 5.2% higher than they were for the same period in 2019. For Canada, our 2023 numbers are outpacing 2022 by more than 40%.”
Ontario is especially active. JTB officials said 87,597 Ontario residents visited in the first six months of 2002. That skyrocketed to 146,922 for the first half of this year.
“But the minister wants 20% more visitors by 2025,” Bennett said. “We need your business.”
Airlines are boosting capacity, she said, noting existing or coming flights from Canada Jetlines and Flair, as well as Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Sunwing and Caribbean Airlines.
The JTB next year will put a focus on the island’s tremendous package of events and festivals.
“Let’s make some money, because there’s money to be made in Jamaica,” Bennett said.
Racquel Queensborough, Business Development Manager at the JTB, said Jamaica is known for its great vibes.
“It’s all about the people. We’re energetic, vibrant and colourful. And we love you so much.”
Queensborough encouraged advisors to give their clients a new experience.
“If they’ve done Dunn’s River Falls, maybe do a day trip to Kingston.”
Queensborough noted that major improvements have been made to Sangster Airport in Montego Bay.
She also pointed out that Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and the largest English-speaking island. Jamaica is home to 250 species of birds, and was the first Caribbean country with its own website.
Earlier in the day, agents met with a bevy of suppliers, including Sandals, Iberostar, TravelBrands and Riu.
Brent Carnegie, Vice President of Canlink Travel, was on hand representing the lovely Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios.
“It’s such a special property,” he said, with a wonderful treehouse spa, elegant dining, a great beach, and more.
Sanjay Kopalkar, Director of Sales and Business Development for Canada Jetlines, said service between YYZ and MBJ starts 09DEC. They’ll start with two flights a week (Saturday and Sunday) and move to three per week on 06JAN in 2024, with flights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Another supplier on hand for the show was Playa Hotels and Resorts.
“We have the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara in Jamaica, as well as the Jewel Grande, The Hilton Rose Hall, and Jewel Paradise Cove. They’re all great for weddings. Zilara is adults-only, but the other resorts are great for families.”
Advisors were treated to Jamaican food and drinks at the Brampton show. There also were games and tons of swag and prizes, including stays at Jamaica resorts. Two dancers whirled and twirled to the music of a steel drum, and a terrific band was on stage to entertain the crowds. There was also a performance by an incredible mentalist, who left agents gasping in wonder.