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Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, is appealing to Jamaicans to get involved in the development of tourism, so as to reap the many benefits that the industry had to offer.
Mrs. Assamba, who was speaking at the launch of the Jamaica segment of the ‘Freestay Caribbean’ programme at the Ocho Rios pier on Thursday (Dec.15), noted that the government was seeking to “widen the industry to include as wide a cross section of the community as is possible”.
“We want to get the tourists to experience the interior of the country. We want to get them to go to communities that are not necessarily along the coastline but still possess a wealth of culture, cuisine, music and art,” she added.
She further lauded the ‘Freestay Jamaica’ programme, noting that it would help boost arrivals for the winter tourist season.
‘Freestay Jamaica’ is aimed at enticing cruise passengers to return to the island as land-based tourists. The programme offers incentives such as discounts, room upgrades and complimentary or discounted tours and meals and persons are given a memento in the form of a coin, which they redeem for benefits.
The coin is embossed with a map of the island and the doctor bird, along with the ‘Freestay Caribbean’ website and telephone number for the Jamaica programme.
In her remarks, Corah-Ann Robertson Sylvester, representative from Seaboard Shipping Company, which is sponsoring the programme, informed that the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has endorsed the project as a major marketing tool.
Meanwhile, Mario Boulanger and Andree Simare, who were the first passengers to disembark the vessel, ‘Carnival Triumph’ received a warm Jamaican welcome from tourism officials, led by Mrs. Assamba, who made a presentation of Jamaican items as well as Freestay coins to the couple.
“With this Freestay coin I will certainly come again. I appreciate the welcome gift that I received and I am grateful for it,” Mr. Boulanger said.
The first time visitors to the island said that they chose Jamaica as their travel destination because of the warmth of the people and the beautiful climate.
‘Freestay Caribbean’ has been operational in some territories since 2001.