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50 travel professionals hailed as winter tourist season gets under way

Published:Wednesday | December 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica's top travel agent, Sharon Little (second right), poses with Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook; travel specialist, Claire Robinson (left), of Claire Skies Travel, Maryland, who was named in the top-10 category; and Dian Holland of the Jamaica Tourist Board Los Angeles, during the Jamaica Travel Specialist awards at the Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara on Monday night.

Western Bureau:

Destination Jamaica's top-50 travel professionals among the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have produced 101,000 room nights for the country's tourism industry.

The 50 were recognised for their outstanding contribution at the annual Jamaica Travel Specialist One Love Reward ceremony at the Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara at Rose Hall on Monday night.

Making the coveted top-five position this year are Sharon Little of Wedding and Honeymoon Travel, California; Donna Daniels, Fox Travel, Texas; Bev Silverness, Travel by Nelson, Minnesota; and Pauline Blacoe, Shinetravel.ca., and Jennifer Borgh, Travel Only, both from Canada.

"The number of rooms sold equates to a spend of US$18.9 million," the Jamaica Tourist Board's deputy director in charge of the Americas, Donnie Dawson, told The Gleaner.

Dawson's comments came on the eve of the start of the winter tourist season, which commenced yesterday and ends in April.

He lauded the agents for their role in making a difference to the island's tourist-arrival numbers.

 

Pivotal to the growth

 

His comments were bolstered by Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook, who argued that despite the evolution of Internet-based bookings, Jamaica still received more than 50 per cent of its travel-related business through traditional travel agents and tour operators.

"They are pivotal to the growth of the sector," he stated, adding that reports he was getting regarding the winter season were positive.

"Our numbers are pacing positively, ahead of last year. Last winter, we had a five per cent growth between January to April," he told The Gleaner.

Graciously accepting her award as the top producer for Jamaica, Sharon Little of Wedding and Honeymoon Travel in California, said she had sold some 13,700 room nights at mainly Jamaican-owned properties, particularly Jewel Resorts.

A specialist in destination weddings, Little said if the weather prevailed on the East Coast, Jamaica should do well this winter.

"With all the extra rooms, the upgrading of the infrastructure and the attractions, Jamaica is an easy sell."

Little, who has been selling Jamaica for the last seven years, said she sold no other destination.

"If they come to me for any other destination, I send them to Jamaica because there is no other place like this country."

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com