Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Mary:THE JAMAICA Product Exchange (JAPEX) 2012 was launched Friday at host hotel, Sunset Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios, with organisers expressing optimism that the 22nd staging of the event will be as successful as in previous years.
JAPEX 2012 will take place September 30 to October 2 and will be staged by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in partnership, for the second straight year, with Jampro.
Jampro said it will be seeking to exceed the over $100 million in contracts which it facilitated at last year's show at the Montego Bay Convention Centre through its business-linkage activities. According to Vice-President Delaine Morgan, who spoke at the launch, several sectors benefited from the 2011 experience, including fresh and processed foods, gift and craft, fashion and apparel, information and communication technologies and furniture, among others.
SEVERAL SECTORS SEE BENEFIT
"All these sectors benefited tremendously from our presence at JAPEX 2011, primarily the agro-processing and manufacturing sectors, and of the J$100 million in contracts which were generated, agro processing accounted for 41.7 per cent or $42 million while manufacturing accounted for 58.3 per cent or $58 million," reported Morgan.
She said for this year, the business-linkage event will be strengthened with the launch of both the linkages event and the JAPEX Fair on one online business-matchmaking platform to provide significant opportunities to interact and network. Another new feature will be the business-linkage exhibition and showcase for the duration of JAPEX and a special buyer day on Sunday, September 30 which will allow interactions between representatives of the tourism sector and producers and suppliers of goods and services.
Jampro said 40 local suppliers have already been confirmed.
According to JHTA President Evelyn Smith, over 220 supplier delegates are expected from Jamaica's six resort areas at the event.
She added: "Approximately 100 tour operator delegates from our traditional markets, United States, Canada and United Kingdom as well as from important emerging markets, including Brazil, Argentina and Chile, will be represented at this event. In addition, 200 retail travel agents from the United States and Canada will also participate in the special trade-show segment of the event."
In addition, there will be 35 media and travel writers from the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean.
"We anticipate great success again from this Jamaican premier marketing event," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Director of Tourism John Lynch has described Jamaica's tourist industry as poised for a harvest. He said the JTB and partners have been working assiduously to build capacity within the sector to capitalise on the 'Bolt bounce' following the London Olympics.
Lynch hailed the benefits of JAPEX saying: "Beyond the exclusive focus on Jamaica's tourism product, the hosting of the trade show on the island has the added bonus of overcoming travel expenses that often prevent some of our smaller travel partners from showcasing their products overseas. It is a consideration that I am sure is welcomed."
Last week, general manager at Sunset Jamaica Grande, Clifton Reader, said the hotel was fine-tuning preparations for the event.
He said the 17,000 square feet grand hall was ready for occupation by the approximately 150 exhibitors expected at the trade show.