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Published on : Thursday, November 14, 2013
The Jamaica Observer published the sixth story on the nominees for this year’s Business Leader Award. All nominees for the award are public sector entities that facilitate the growth and development of private companies in Jamaica.
Imagine a scenario for a moment, living in a city somewhere in the Northeast or Midwest USA. It is mid-winter 2007 and you are suffering through the most agonising blizzard in recent memory.
Suddenly, vivid images of fellow Americans having the time of their lives flash across your television screen. There is one group at a rowdy open-air bar, sparsely clad and downing copious gulps of Red Stripe beer. Others are shown lazing about on a sunny day at a beautiful white sand beach. The more adventurous are captured experiencing the exhilaration of parasailing 200 feet above the pristine blue ocean.
This tantalising montage of an alternative universe heightens your own sense of misery.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) marketing gurus are playing mind games, and you find yourself being beckoned by the paradise they are beaming into your living room.
You are tempted to call your travel agent with an urgent plea: to get you to a place that is as far away (as your credit card will allow) from the inhospitable icebox that is now your world.
Of course, not everyone is expected to respond positively to the Jamaica invitation, and many won’t. But it is a reasonable bet that some will. The JTB, an experienced and prolific data miner, is likely to have already figured out that this environment is rich with opportunities.
Its keen marketing instincts, backed by mountains of travel data, is a large part of what makes the State-owned agency such an invaluable partner with private sector stakeholders in Jamaica’s tourism industry.
When the JTB sells Jamaica, everyone benefits. Hotels with critical mass and the resources to spend millions of their own money on brand penetration are lifted even further by the rising tide. So, too, are the many villas, guest houses, gift shops, tour bus companies, restaurants, bars, and soft adventure outfits that collectively make up the island’s tourism sector.
Last year, over three million tourists visited Jamaica, from places as far afield as China and Brazil, to the United States and Barbados. Nearly two million of the visitors spent at least one night and in many instances up to two weeks on the island, while 1.32 million came here in cruise ships on eight-hour jaunts.