Jamaica House in Rio compelling
Four years after Jamaica launched the Jamaica House O2 concept at the 2012 Olympics, the idea remains among the top five most popular in London, England.
Developed around the Olympic Games to leverage the global focus on the country's athletes and Brand Jamaica, the concept is now a staple on the international market, making its presence felt at the 2013 IAAF World Athletic Championships in Moscow, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the recently concluded IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Plans are afoot to continue the tradition at Rio 2016, deputy director of tourism, Jason Hall, told The Gleaner.
"The results of the Jamaica House concept have been impressive," says Hall, pointing out that global media coverage valued at more than £15 million was generated across print, online and television.
It delivered 150 per cent on investment, he said, noting that the audience reach was more than one billion coming out of the London activities alone.
The results were impressive. Jamaica saw airlift capacity out of the United Kingdom increase by more than 36,000 seats in 2013 and was given access to more than 300 travel agents and tour operators from that country and other parts of Europe.
The investment at the time, just under £1 million, was heavily criticised; however, stakeholders in the industry lauded the initiative.
"Our actual investment of under £1 million was the best value ever spent to highlight our dominance as a country which dominates sports, music and modern lifestyles. It was invaluable for creating awareness for future generations of visitors, investors, as well as playing to the inherent national pride of our diaspora living in the UK," Josef Forstmayr, a member of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), said in 2012.
Forstmayr, a former Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association president, added that a Jamaica House in Moscow, in conjunction with the World Athletic Championships, was also a great idea.
"Jamaica is a strong brand which is constantly eroded by the sad reality of our excessively high levels of violent crime. Along our continuing efforts to reduce these levels of criminal activities, we must use every opportunity of projecting the island in a positive fashion on the world stage. The JTB's strategy of 'overlaying' bad news with good news has worked miracles for us during the past 30 years. Our focus needs to be the genius of Jamaica."
Based on the accomplishments of Jamaica House, the country's deputy director of tourism says Rio presents a very compelling proposition in terms of creating destination awareness and tourism impact.
"Brazil, with a population of 198.7 million, the fifth most populous, is the eighth largest economy at US$2.394 trillion," says Hall.
In 2012, 7.9 million Brazilians travelled overseas, and this figure is expected to increase by 17 per cent by 2017.
Currently, only a few thousand Brazilians travel to Jamaica, in large part because of lack of airlift.
"A successfully staged Jamaica House in Rio is intended to enable Brazil to achieve its potential as a major source market for Jamaica," Hall stated.