Brand Jamaica strong in the New York travel market
“Jamaica a go sell off this year”, screamed a man in his mid-40s with a Jamaican accent.
He was attending the Travel & Adventure Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan over the weekend. He lives in White Plains, New York, and after an absence from the island for five years, he made a decision to return to his homeland this summer. Although he grew up in St Elizabeth, he has never been to Dunn’s River Falls, in St Ann, and knows virtually nothing about the country’s capital city, Kingston. He admits he pretends to know Half-Way Tree and Cross Roads in group discussions with friends. But after visiting the Jamaica Tourist Board booth at the travel expo on Sunday, he will now do his first around-the-island tour on his visit later this year with his family of four. Together, they will share the joy of discovering new places.
The Santa Cruz native is one of hundreds of thousands of New York Tri-State residents who will go on overseas vacations this year. The annual Travel and Adventure Expo typically provides the inspiration and information for new global travel adventures, and the record-breaking number of attendees over the weekend was testament to a renewed interest in travel after the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I attended the show on Saturday and I was thrilled with the energy and excitement at the expo,” another New York-based Jamaican, Ray McKayle from Flatlands, Brooklyn, told The Gleaner. McKayle is an event promoter doing a house music Jamboree in Negril in May, and he revealed that he built some productive new bridges at the expo that will further expand the size of his party group travelling to Hedonism 11 in Jamaica.
This year’s travel expo was open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, and it showcased hundreds of vendors from all over the world selling and promoting an astonishing variety of products – from hot and cold weather destinations and beach resorts to river cruises, ski trips to snow-capped mountains, health retreats, shopping sprees, mountain escapes, African safaris, airlines, luggage, travel insurance and travel credit cards. To increase traffic, some destinations offered complimentary food and beverage sampling, and gift bags loaded with booklets, brochures, T-shirts and promotional goodies.
Amid the multitude of curious travel devotees, Jamaica was able to stand out and shine with a strategic location and eye-popping displays that riveted with images of iconic landmarks. And a team of friendly, knowledgeable Jamaica Tourist Board representatives led by Chris Wright and Carey Dennis engaged the crowds with information, gifts and trip giveaways. The team was supported by representatives from Couples Resorts, Grand Palladium and Grand Bahia Principe, as well as two top 50 travel specialists from Northeast USA.
“The interest in Jamaica is huge and sustained,” Carey Dennis, business development officer at the Jamaica Tourist Board, stated, dressed in national black, green and gold colours. “Jamaica is on the lips of everyone. We’re expecting a phenomenal 2023.”