JTB to Re-Launch ‘Meet the People’ Programme


The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has announced a planned revitalization of its ‘Meet the People’ programme, which was established in the 1970s and has served to enhance the island’s profile as a hospitable destination.
An official re-launch is set to take place on Tuesday, March 23 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
With the support of volunteers (hosts) islandwide, the programme offers visitors of varied interests, an exciting experience of Jamaica’s lifestyle and culture through its people. Visitors who participate should leave enriched with an appreciation of the destination and true Jamaican hospitality.
Speaking with JIS News, Deputy Director of the JTB, David Shields said that Jamaica’s greatest advantage over other tourist destinations that also offered “sun, sand and sea”, was the distinctive culture and by extension, its people, the most significant sell the country has right now as a tourism product.
“Jamaica has a very rich cultural heritage, a rich and vibrant people, a spirit and an energy that is way beyond what we see in any other place in the Caribbean. That energy and vibrancy is what the visitors talk about. They love the Jamaican people,” he said.
Mr. Shields noted that aspects of the country’s culture, such as music and dance were general contributing factors that made Jamaicans fun to be around, which was most entertaining to visitors.
The re-launch of the programme comes at a time when the JTB is looking at various strategies to expose tourists to other aspects of Jamaica, aiming to get visitors away from the resorts to the island’s attractions and craft markets.
Some of the more recent initiatives include the ‘Undiscovered Jamaica’ and ‘My Jamaica’ campaigns, both aimed at showcasing the many ‘unknown’ attractions across the island.
It is also significant as, the JTB has been working assiduously to position Jamaica as a ‘green destination’.
Mr. Shields said that as a global trend, going “green” was an important consideration when marketing overseas in areas such as Canada and Europe, which were very demanding on “green” standards.
In recognizing the industry’s potential to enhance growth and development, the new thrust is geared towards projecting a more diversified product to potential visitors, giving true meaning to the phrase: ‘We are more than just a beach, we are a country’.
Over the years, the programme has worked to bring visitors ‘face-to-face’ with locals who share similar interests. As with most people-to-people programmes, it has served to create life-long bonds between Jamaicans and foreigners, and through such interactions, position Jamaica as being an inclusive destination.

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