Canadian Market Important to Jamaica’s Tourism – Minister Assamba


Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet Assamba has acknowledged the importance of the Canadian market to Jamaica’s tourism industry, indicating that the sector had recorded one of the highest growths in its history in 2004.
The number of stopover visitors to the island in 2004 was 1.4 million, with Canadians accounting for over 105,000 of that number, an increase of 11 per cent over 2003.
Speaking recently to Jamaica’s tourism partners at a luncheon held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, Canada, Minister Assamba said much of Jamaica growth in tourism could be attributed to the growth in the Canadian market.
“Canada is a market that is important to us and it is going to become even more important to us.”
Explaining that Jamaica was recently accorded “approved destination status” for China, Mrs. Assamba asked travel agents who were selling packages to China to also sell Jamaica so “your customers will be able to have two vacations in one.”
The Minister noted that flights from Canada had increased with the opening up of new gateways. She noted new flights from Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.
Noting that there are “exciting things happening” in the tourism sector, Minister Assamba said in the next five years, 5,000 new rooms would be constructed in the industry, by way of the Riu, Groupo Pinero, and Iberostar resorts.
She told the travel partners that Jamaica had more attractions than other Caribbean islands combined, and implored the travel agents to send their clients to Kingston as it had a lot to offer and was often overlooked.
“We have the Ward Theatre, which was the first theatre built in the new world. We have museums, hotels and Hellshire Beach. Our visitors don’t get to experience the heartbeat of Jamaica, which is Kingston,” she stated.
The Tourism Minister commended the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) team in Canada, headed by Pat Samuels, pointing out that the team was voted “most favourite tourist office” by Canadian travel agents. She also praised the overall work of the JTB in selling Jamaica to the world.
The Board, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year has blazed a trail in the Caribbean in terms of how it has operated, the support it gives to Jamaica and its overseas partners, and in making tourism successful, said Mrs. Assamba.
She was accompanied to Canada by Director General in the Ministry Carole Guntley and Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook, who thanked the gathering for their contribution to the island’s tourism success.
Those in attendance included Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto Vivia Betton, members of the Jamaican community and representatives from Air Jamaica and Air Canada airlines; tour operators Alio and Air Canada Vacations; Jamaican resorts – FDR, Round Hill, Sandals, Sandcastles, Sans Souci, Sunset Beach, SuperClubs and Tryall; and travel magazines, Baxter Travel, Canadian Traveller and Travel Week.

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