Jamaica is currently experiencing one of the fastest travel and tourism recoveries in the world. As per Amadeus, the searches and demand for the destination were running 50 per cent ahead of the global average and travel agents led bookings and searches doubling the global average. With Jamaica recently lifted the ban on travellers from India, Donovan White, Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), shares the latest travel and tourism scenario in the exotic destination. The country is keen and working to open new routes to facilitate travel between India and Jamaica, to make the destination more accessible and seamless for Indian tourists.
– Prashant Nayak
Q. Please tell us about the tourism recovery in Jamaica?
The recovery has been very positive. We are enjoying a V-shaped recovery. Presently, the earnings are around about 1.4 billion US Dollars. We anticipate that by the end of this year, we’d probably be around about 1.6 million and about 2 billion in terms of earnings. This puts Jamaica in a good position with all the teams we need to be in full recovery.
Q. Currently, from which countries does Jamaica accept tourists and what are the requirements and protocols to visit the island nation?
Jamaica was among the first destinations to reopen to travellers last year and remains one of the most accessible and enticing places for Americans in 2021. Jamaica is accepting tourists from South America, Canada, and the UK. Jamaica recently lifted the ban on travellers from India.
Requirements and protocols to visit Jamaica are a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival in Jamaica. You must complete the travel authorisation form and get approval for the entry. And all the other time protocols apply like wearing masks in public places, maintaining social distancing, etc.
Jamaica had also established a pair of “resilient corridors” to protect visitors and citizens from COVID-19, last year. The corridors incorporate more than 80 percent of Jamaica’s tourism areas and only one percent of the country’s resident population. They also meet the strict COVID-19 protocols approved by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Q. On the tourism front, any new developments in Jamaica? How is cruise tourism picking up in the country?
Jamaica has had a long experience as a tourist destination, being a favoured retreat for travellers from across the globe. The destination has been one of the best-known resort vacation destinations in the world and currently boasts one of the most diverse visitor accommodation sectors in the Caribbean, including world-famous all-inclusive resorts, upscale hotels and villas, and a range of distinctive tourist accommodations and attractions.
Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan is Jamaica’s first long-term strategic development plan. The Tourism Sector plan also will have implications for other areas of national development, including transport, urban and regional planning, housing, services, agriculture and manufacturing.
Almost 20,000 players in the tourism industry had the opportunity to benefit from the recent return of cruises to Jamaica. The Carnival Sunrise, the first cruise ship to dock in Jamaica following a 17-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, arrived in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on August 16 with approximately 3,000 passengers and crew. Jamaica is constantly trying to get more opportunities to bring back & further expand cruise tourism.
Q. Tell us about the tourism scenario from the India market before the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, Jamaica was making good strides in terms of building the destination as the most favoured destination in India. But it was rudely interrupted by the pandemic. And so, we’ve had to restart all over again. We expect that it will take some time to regain the pre-pandemic numbers and traffic to Jamaica, but we are working towards achieving those numbers gradually. Presently in the UAE, we are not only promoting Jamaica but also looking to develop new routes to Jamaica, as well as initiate new opportunities to make the travel to Jamaica from India even more seamless.
Q. Post COVID, what kind of visitor mix are you looking for from India to Jamaica by the end of 2022? Any particular segment that you are targeting from India?
We see there’s a great opportunity with the wedding market because people who like to or prefer to travel and do destination weddings tend to have fewer inhibitions for cost and distance. Post-COVID, the demographic of travellers has changed. They’ve gotten younger, they’ve got more adventurous, they’ve gotten more sensitized to wanting to travel and travel long distances and spend more time. And with Jamaica, a destination that offers so much variety, so much culture, which also resembles some aspects of Indian culture; we believe that we can make a very good push to get more Indian travellers.
Q. From an Indian point of view, what would you recommend visitors to see and experience on a week-long trip to Jamaica?
Jamaica is the island of melodic days, upbeat nights, and unforgettable experiences. Get back to nature in the magic of the whispering rainforests, hike the gently rustling Blue Mountains and look at the world through new eyes. Meet the friendly people, try Jamaican food, and watch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea to the sound of reggae grooves and good times. The island has something for every kind of traveller.
Visit Negril, a small town in Jamaica, is a beautiful vacation spot. The beaches are sublime and the sunsets are like nothing else on earth. It is the epitome of relaxation. Head to Montego Bay is a marvellous melting pot of cultures, buzzing with locals, visitors, and expats who’ve made Jamaica their home. Montego Bay is the main tourist hub for Jamaica and also its second-largest city. You can also visit Ocho Rios – a town with stunning scenery, renowned attractions, world-class resorts, and vast shopping options, Ocho Rios is one of the major tourist regions in Jamaica. And definitely visit Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, and is the cultural mecca of the island. The place to be if you want to experience the mesmerizing music and heady nightlife as you vibrate to the beat of the drums.
Q. Are you doing any special promotions in Expo 2020 Dubai to entice Indian tourists and other tourists from this side of the continent?
Jamaica by participating in the World Expo 2020 aims to draw a broader picture of what Jamaica brings for tourists. The zones of the Jamaica pavilion, such as business and investment zone, music zone, heritage and culture zone, gastronomy zone and the experiential zone, a special effort is being made towards promoting Jamaica in India.
Q. How do you see the global tourism industry evolve in a post-COVID world?
We see a changing of the travel marketplace happening already. The demographics of travel are beginning to shift themselves. There is an increased level of millennial travellers that are more adventurous, they’re more opportunistic. We also see that there is a tremendous transfer of different segments to the millennials. The age groups are getting easier and the demand for high-end services as in a destination is also getting greater. So, we feel that the travel market spaces are going to be demanding more services. And we are gearing our own destination to be able to fit into that demand cycle while maintaining the quality, and then our mix, all the products that would have attracted all types of travellers from across the globe.