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Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook, says the opening up of Cuba as a tourist destination should provide opportunities for the sector in Jamaica.

Addressing a media breakfast as part of the 25th staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) Tourism Trade Show, at the Hilton Resort in St. James, on September 21, Mr. Pennicook said recent developments in Cuba should be seen as marketing opportunities for Jamaica.

“We will be able to work closely with Cuba and literally sell two wonderful products to the tourism industry worldwide. We happen to be two tourism destinations with a very strong cultural heritage. We have our own strengths in other areas and the fact is when we can market the destinations as one…it’s twice the fun,” Mr. Pennicook said.

He pointed out that with Cuba being the largest Spanish-speaking island in the Caribbean and Jamaica the largest English-speaking island in the region, both destinations have a lot to offer.

Dispelling the notion that Cuba poses a direct threat to the viability of Jamaica’s tourist industry, Mr. Pennicook said there has always been competition between the countries, but Jamaica plans to work harder to ensure that the source markets are protected.

“We intend to step up our marketing in those markets where we are already competing to ensure that we not only continue to get business, but increase our share from those markets,” he said.

As it relates to air links between Jamaica and Cuba, Mr. Pennicook said at present there is none, but discussions are taking place with a number of airlines, with a view to getting more flights between Cuba and Jamaica.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, said the Association has embraced the opportunities that Cuba brings now as a major player in the industry.

She pointed out that Jamaica plans to explore multi-destination marketing with Cuba, as obtains in other parts of the world.

“The Jamaica-Cuba combination is going to be a really great selling point. We see it as an absolute opportunity to market and put attention on the Western Caribbean in a way it has never been done before,” Mrs. Madden-Greig said.