Jamaicans have been visiting local resorts to take advantage of reduced staycation packages, as international travel has been reduced drastically.
The move is also being pushed by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), through its Rediscover Jamaica programme, in an effort to provide a temporary cushion for the struggling hotel sector, which has seen a fallout in business over the past five months, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We have been encouraging our locals to rediscover Jamaica by visiting various hotels and attractions across the island and the response has been great,” Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, told JIS News.
“The programme is really about providing some much-needed relief for the tourism industry, following the devastating impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and also to have more of our locals see and enjoy our magnificent tourism product,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett pointed out that the rediscover Jamaica campaign will increase occupancy and keep workers on the job.
“Rediscover Jamaica is a redesign of an earlier campaign in previous years, which encouraged Jamaicans to experience Jamaica. It is being done in collaboration with the major players in the local industry, which include hotels, attractions and travel agencies,” the Minister pointed out.
For his part, RIU Group’s Communications Manager for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, Marc Miralles Pons, said that even before COVID-19, RIU had been working with the local Jamaican market, pointing to the nearly $13 billion (US$85million) newly renovated 901-room RIU Ocho Rios property as a favourite getaway and popular hangout spot for locals.
The Group’s Director of Sales in Jamaica, Niurka Garcia, added that the local Jamaican market has always been a huge part of the hotel chain’s business model, which made it easier to maintain its market share with locals even amidst the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The local market is among the top-five markets that we host in Jamaica and particularly Ocho Rios,” she said, adding that the hotel could easily be filled with locals on any given weekend… even before COVID-19.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, said that with Jamaica’s main tourist markets undergoing challenges related to COVID-19, the Jamaican market has become all the more important for tourism stakeholders.
“It’s a market that travels year-round, especially on the weekends and public holidays, and we just want to reengage our Jamaicans,” Mr. Robinson said.
“People feel that tourism is just for overseas guests, but the truth is that we have a tourism product that allows everybody to be a part of it,” he added.