Travel Talk: Donovan White, Director of Tourism for Jamaica Tourist Board

Jessica Alexander spoke to Donovan White, Director of Tourism, at the Jamaica Travel Market about the destination's visitation success and how Jamaica is gearing up to host the Caribbean Travel Marketplace next year.

Q. What initiatives do you have in place to work with the UK market?

In 2022 Jamaica became the the number one Caribbean destination for UK travellers. So we’re now the poster child for UK travel to the Caribbean, which we’re extremely proud of. Now that we have this recognition, we want to get to a place where we’re incontestable. We have an ambition to get to 300,000 travellers to Jamaica, from the UK, by the end of next year. It’s an aggressive target, it means that we’re going to be doing close to 60,000 more travellers from the UK, to Jamaica, over the next year. We certainly have the capacity to do it.

Norse Atlantic Airways will begin flying between London Gatwick to Kingston and Montego Bay from this month. Flights to Montego Bay will operate four times a week starting October 29, 2023, while Norse Atlantic Airways will fly to Kingston three times a week starting October 31. This is the fourth carrier to offer flights between the UK and Jamaica, which shows a strong demand for the destination.

Q. What are you doing to build on the relationship with travel agents?

In over 100 years, that relationship hasn’t changed. The the role of the travel agent in the decision making process is imperative. We want the message to be that when you make a decision to travel to Jamaica, that you get value for money.

When agents take into consideration all aspects of the destination, from our culture, food, music, entertainment, resorts, beaches, mountains, and most importantly, our number one asset, beautiful people they know they can ensures that their client’s time in the destination is well spent, and that they will want to come back.

We work hard to make sure that we engage with travel agents and that we offer opportunities that will incentivise their activities. We make sure they go on fam trips to find out new things about the destination and experience what the traveller will feel so that they are fully equipped to sell Jamaica the best way they can.

Q. Jamaica is hosting the Caribbean Travel Marketplace next year. What can visitors expect from the both the conference and the island itself?

CHA marketplace is is the single largest trade marketplace in the Caribbean annually, and to host that is a privilege. We get to welcome not just every destination in the Caribbean, but also all of our business partners both locally in the Caribbean region, and internationally from around the world.

Every year Caribbean marketplace is an experience, so we want the Jamaican experience to be one that delegates have never seen or felt before. So next year, it’s going to be May 20-22. The day after, is actually a public holiday in Jamaica called Labour Day, so we would like to create a scenario where every delegate coming in for CH DA is involved in a community activity. I think it will give some of our delegates an opportunity to truly experience life in the communities in Jamaica, which is completely different from maybe what they have seen and experienced before.

Q. What sets Jamaica apart from other Caribbean destinations?

Jamaica is unique in so many special ways. Most importantly, I mentioned earlier, the people of Jamaica is our number one asset it’s it’s what sets us apart from everybody else and everything else. They make every day special for every visitor. Then the unique assets that we’ve been blessed with; the blue waters and beautiful sunshine, beautiful mountain ranges. The food that comes from the the fields of Jamaica, the the delicacies that are created by our executive chefs. The music, especially Bob Marley.

Q. What’s new for next year?

Next year will be a big year for us. We’ll be opening almost 2,000 room new rooms in the destination which is the first 2,000 of about 20,000 scheduled over the next five to 10 years. The first two properties I believe will include Princess in February and then there is Riu Palace Aquarelle and then later on next year we anticipate the opening of UNICO, which is part of the the Hard Rock group in Montego Bay.

We’re also very excited about the upcoming Bob Marley: One Love film which will be launched early next year in cinemas across the world. That’s going to be a special moment for the Marley family but also by extension for Jamaica.