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JTB urged to set up office in Czech Republic

Published:Wednesday | May 1, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Eric David, local expert at Expedia Inc, makes a point as General Manager David L. Shields (left) and Trade Development Manager Richard Moss of Island Routes Caribbean Adventures give an ear at JAPEX 2013 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James, on Monday. - PHOTO BY PAUL H. WILLIAMS

Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator

WESTERN BUREAU:

TRAVEL AGENTS from Central Europe have recommended that the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) establish a permanent office in Prague in the Czech Republic, in order to capitalise on the untapped tourism market in that region.

Dr Maria Grochova of the Slovakia-based Leonardo Cestovna Kancelaria travel agency made the disclosure to The Gleaner at the Jamaica Product Exchange 2013 trade show in Montego Bay on Monday.

"What we have concluded is that Jamaica still needs a bit more promotion in central and even eastern Europe, by the JTB, because people in central Europe are still not really that educated about this country. Everybody knows about Bob Marley being from Jamaica and about rum and now Usain Bolt - and that's it," Grochova said.

She added: "It would be best to have an office in Prague. Prague is central and everybody (in central Europe) knows Prague. It is close to Slovakia and to Poland. I didn't know about the different tourist resorts in Jamaica until I came here. It's my first time knowing about Negril.

"Jamaica must be promoted as unique and special because right now Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius are the most popular in central Europe and the resorts in Jamaica are of similar quality, so they would have to know about the cuisine, art, museums and very special places, very cultural, and they need to know this information."

Manager of VIP and Incentive Department at ESO Travel, one of the leading travel operators for exotic destinations in Prague, Czech Republic, Matej Mika, also supported Grochova's recommendations.

He said the JTB could follow the lead of other Caribbean destinations which had been conducting press conferences and attending promotional events in central Europe, in order to increase the number of visitors from that region travelling to Jamaica's shores.

"It will only be a matter of time, though, because one of our tour operators already has started charter flights to Jamaica, and it will increase the numbers as well. We hope we can share our experience from Jamaica and pass it on to our clients. The onus is now on us as the product managers and what we tell our clients," Mika said.

claudia.gardner@gleanerjm.com