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Travel advisors took the spotlight this month (December) at the Jamaica Tourism Board's (JTB) eighth One Love Gala. The top 50 performers were lauded for booking some 174,837 room nights this year, mostly from the US.
The travel advisor who took the top spot was one Lindsey Johnson from Tropics Travel Agency in Paducah, KY. She was presented with an award by Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett for her work in booking 23,462 room nights in 2019.
Jamaica's One Love Rewards Program is a robust digital training platform run through the JTB for travel agents who want to focus their efforts on Jamaica and become certified experts on the destination.
The course highlights:
- What makes Jamaica so alluring to travelers
- What Jamaica's most popular attractions are
- How to match a clients' special interests and travel styles with a personalized Jamaica experience
- Locations of resort areas and range of accommodations
For their efforts and time agents get a Jamaica Travel Specialist certificate; a Jamaica Weddings & Honeymoons Specialist certificate; Three CEU credits from The Travel Institute; cash rewards for production; points to use at JTB's Online Rewards Store; courtesies and privileges at
Sangster International Airport and a host of other perks and privileges.
"You are not being hosted. You have earned your way here," Donnie Dawson, Jamaica's Deputy Director of Tourism, told the agents in a ballroom at the Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall resort in Montego Bay where the top sellers were feted for a weekend of appreciation. "You are the best of the best."
The program currently has amassed some 40,000 through the years, with around 5,000 actively participating agents at any one time.
Ironically, Dawson notes, the hardest task in administering the program is to get the travel agents who are booking Jamaica to register their bookings online so their work can be counted toward a place on the Top 50 roster and points can be accrued toward merchandise and products available through the One Love Rewards online store.
"The bar for 'Top 50' is getting higher," Dawson said. "Soon, we might have to expand the program to become the top 100 agents to accommodate all the booking activity."
He adds that the One Love program will soon be launching in the French and Spanish languages and efforts are underway to bring Latin America into the fold.
Dawson notes that, compared to other Caribbean island travel agent programs, the training offered by JTB is in another league, if only by the ever-burgeoning size of its database.
"I sit with fellow island destination boards and they do not have a database such as we have. I remind them they must go to the sellers of travel if they want to see results."
Helping to keep those sellers engaged, the JTB recently introduced an on-location webinar series, providing live and entrancing visuals to help travel agents better understand and sell the destination to their clients.
"Jamaica is experiencing a record-breaking year and in order to keep that momentum going, we have revolutionized the way we communicate with our valued partners," said Dawson. "This new online format, which virtually transports our travel specialists to Jamaica, has boosted interest in our webinar series. We anticipate that this live, in-the-moment experience will excite the specialists and drive them to increase their bookings to the destination."
Tourism accounts for 9.2 percent of Jamaica's GDP and 20 percent of the workforce.
Jamaica will be boosting those numbers this winter from primary feeder markets in the U.S. as the destination is increasing airlift with some 80,000 air seats to meet the spiking demand.
"The destination has been experiencing a great year, having welcomed more than two million stopover visitors through the end of September, a 9.1 percent increase over the same period last year," said Donovan White, Jamaica's Director of Tourism.
The US market region has grown by 13.5 percent with 1,395,590 arrivals (during the January to September 2019 period), which is 166,457 more visitors compared to the 1,229,133 arrivals during the same period in 2018.
To that end, after a ten-year hiatus, American Airlines last month resumed daily nonstop service from New York JFK to Montego Bay. Meanwhile, LATAM Airlines inaugurated nonstop service from Lima, Peru to Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport this month. As for other airlines, United Airlines has increased frequency to Montego Bay from Baltimore,
Delta has increased its capacity from Atlanta, and Spirit Airlines introduced new service to Montego Bay and Kingston.
According to data from the JTB, the island has increased lift from the U.S. by 79,522, Canada by 21,418, and Latin America by 8,280. Those seats will go into filling the 12,000 more hotel rooms that will be added to the island's inventory in the coming months in building and development underway. Jamaica is currently eyeing an inbound count of 4.3 million visitors, and a $4 million infusion into the tourism market by the end of this year.
Aggressive strategies in progress by the tourism board target attracting five million visitors by 2021, generating $5 billion in tourism revenues.
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