Monday,  January 24, 2022  2:10 am

Agents explore Jamaica's diversity

Agents explore Jamaica's diversity
Philip Rose, director – Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board & Antoinette Chen, managing director, Sandy Haven Luxury Boutique Hotel
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

The diversity of Jamaica’s travel product was on display in Toronto yesterday, as the Jamaica Tourist Board hosted its Destination Product Showcase event for travel agents.

The day featured two sessions (afternoon and evening) which saw approximately 350 Toronto-area travel agents attend over the course of the day, with opportunities to meet with Jamaica’s many travel partners including hotels, airlines and tour operators.

Attendees also got a taste of Jamaica with traditional dishes and fresh coconuts, followed by a chance to unwind with a massage while enjoying the music of the destination.

Philip Rose, director of Canada for the Jamaica Tourist Board, told PAX that the event provided the JTB the opportunity to provide Canadian travel agents with the full range of product offering in Jamaica, from large all-inclusives to small boutique properties.

“We’re showcasing the diversity of Jamaica,” Rose said. “We want our travel partners to be mindful of the fact that while we did create the all-inclusive concept in Jamaica and we have many award-winning large hotels, we also have a wonderful collection of smaller boutique hotels and villas. We have several people who flew in from Jamaica – Relax Resorts, Sandy Haven, The Cliff Hotel, Deja, just to name a few. These brands are not very well-known but they’re equally as important to our tourism industry. It’s about diversity of our product we’re showcasing.”

Agents got a chance to pose in their very own Jamaica souvenir photo

According to Rose, while many of the smaller properties can be found by travellers online, the JTB is looking to connect consumer and hotelier via the retail travel agent channel.

“Canadian travellers are far more savvy than we give them credit for - they’re navigating the web and asking their retail travel agents probing questions which will allow them to find the right property for them,” Rose explained. “As far digital interaction goes, they’re online looking for smaller hotels that offer things like a great culinary experience. What the JTB is seeking to do is to help facilitate that connection between the consumer and hotel partner, but also ensuring that the booking flow is going through the retail travel agents and tour operators. We have a high percentage of repeat business and the reason for that is we’ve been able to help the consumers find the right resorts for them. More importantly, they tell their friends.”

“The thing that stood out the most was that the agents are asking questions and seeking information, trying to get details on the product offering,” he continued. “It’s obvious that the travel agent community knows that the consumer is very savvy and particular in what they’re looking for.”

Looking ahead to the winter travel season, Rose said that Jamaica is forecasting an increase of seven to eight per cent year-over-year. He added that while arrivals have been increasing in recent months, the fact that the boost resulted from this year’s record hurricane season is not a reason to celebrate.

“For the first seven months of 2017, we were pacing seven per cent ahead of last year,” Rose said, “but we’re very mindful of the fact that many of our Caribbean neighbours were affected by this hurricane season - we’re getting a small uptick but we can’t celebrate that.”