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Tourism stakeholders hoping for big boost from JAPEX

Published:Tuesday | April 12, 2016 | 4:00 AM

Officials from the Jamaica Tourist and Hotel Association (JHTA) and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) are counting on 'the Expo effect' to bring a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy, through the upcoming Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) from April 29-May 1.

Event organisers this week called for the industry to help build on the momentum gained from the Linkages Speed Networking event held last month.

They're looking to forge partnerships with other elements of the private sector to meet the ambitious targets for investment and job creation in the next few years.

More than 160 travel agents, hoteliers, allied members and small and medium-sized enterprises in the industry will converge at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Friday, April 29 through to Sunday May 1 for the 26th staging of JAPEX.

Camille Needham, executive director of JHTA, highlighted the importance of JAPEX in generating ideas, and said new business projects would be implemented in the sector in months after JAPEX to ensure sustained activity in the industry.

Needham said the challenges that trouble the region, including water scarcity, a need for education, and unemployment, could be solved through a combined effort.

"To confront these issues, there must be partnerships at every level to foster innovation, ensure the right kind of education, mentor our poorest or weakest citizens, and, in so doing, build sustainable businesses that can work with us, in collaboration, to create the future we envision," she said.

ATTRACTING BUSINESSES

The event will help in strengthening the tourism offerings to the summer and winter tourist seasons.

"Overall, JAPEX has always left behind a strong, transformative social and economic legacy across the island," said JHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig.

The event's success hinges on attracting some of the 500 people who operate within the Caribbean, Latin American, North American and European tourism markets, organisers said.

The country's growing transport links, boosted by the building of highways and the newly opened Kingston to MoBay leg, as well as the development of airports, will help boost trade and attract more businesses and investment from these regions.

Already, hotel vacancies have been given a fillip by expected demand as the event approaches, as more companies and individuals register to participate.