Top 50 travel agents sell US$25m in rooms
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:THE TOP 50 Jamaica Travel Specialists (JTS) have sold 94,000 room nights, earning the island's tourist industry an average of US$25 million this past year.
The agents, based in the island's major source markets, the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom, were recognised for their outstanding contribution, at a ceremony hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Secrets Resorts, St James on Monday night.
Some 13,000 agents are enrolled in the JTS programme, says Donnie Dawson, deputy director of tourism, the Americas, "and the room nights the top 50 have sold average US$230.00 per night".
Now in its third year, JTS' success was an indication that retail travel agents were back in vogue. "There is so much clutter in the Internet world, travellers are confused as to where to go to get a good deal, so it's good to have a third-party endorsement," he stated.
Of the 50 agents recognised, the largest group represented the northeast, Midwest, southeast, the west coast and south west of the United States. They were lauded by tourism director Paul Pennicook for responding to the Call to Action promotion after a "softish" winter.
"Before the response, we were a bit worried whether or not we would reach our targets for 2014," admitted Pennicook, adding that "we are pleased to report that after the webinars, etc., we are not only very likely to make the US targets for 2014, but also exceed our numbers".
The tourism director also reported that arrivals from Canada were the best since 2012.
Two thousand and thirteen he noted was sluggish for Canada.
The most impressive market to date is the UK, registering a 16 per cent increase over 2013.
"In 2013, we experienced a growth of 4.5 per cent out of the UK, after four successive years of decline," said the tourism director, explaining that the country started to see changes in prospects after the 2012 Olympics in the UK.
"As at the end of November, we are 50,000 ahead of where we were in 2013, and these travel agents are responsible for this growth."