Remarks by Dr. Wykeham McNeill at the Post Olympics Press Briefing


Salutations:

Colleague Ministers, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen…good afternoon.

I want to once again commend and congratulate, on behalf of the Ministry and its agencies, all our athletes who represented our country at the recent London Olympics. The performances were exceptional and every one of our athletes made us proud. I am pleased to say they were true Jamaican ambassadors. Without a doubt Jamaica’s reputation was boosted during the Olympics. Brand Jamaica was bolstered as our athletes dominated the track and captivated a global audience as the event played out on the world stage.

Recognizing that the Olympics could serve as a platform from which to launch various marketing initiatives, the decision was taken to establish a “Jamaica House” in the Millennium Dome in London, popularly known as O2. This was a multi-ministerial initiative. In tourism we had four primary objectives:

·       Ensure that the attention and enthusiasm generated by our athletes was focused in a manner to enable us to harness it to maximize the benefits to Jamaica and Brand Jamaica

·       Target the Jamaican Diaspora and create within that demographic an aspirational desire to visit Jamaica. For some to come back and for many, especially those first and second generations, to visit Jamaica for the first time in many cases. Jamaica House was the biggest single marketing initiative in the UK in a long while. Members of the Diaspora made Jamaica House their “home” for the duration of the Olympics. Over 3,000 of them turned up on August 6 at Jamaica House for the flag raising exercise

·       Create a combined marketing initiative and facility that we could brand and use at the Olympics and subsequent major events worldwide

·       Deepen our partnerships with business and industry by creating a unified front between the sectors of tourism, industry and sport

So what was seen at O2 was the prototype of what Jamaica will use in the future on such occasions. It was a spectacular success. It attracted massive media attention and huge attendance, partly because of its strategic location and the on-line promotional campaign that was used to promote it.

Jamaica House and the activities within it were part and parcel of a marketing strategy to capitalize on the exposure brand Jamaica would obtain during the London Olympics. We had considerable success during the actual event, with a significant portion of the benefits to be gained in the near future and continue for a considerable time.   

High among the objectives of the promotional activities at Jamaica House was to meet and engage with the partners in the travel trade such as tour operators and travel agents. We also invited and hosted various dignitaries at the venue including the British Minister for Caribbean Affairs, Henry Bellingham, who said Jamaica was akin to a second host nation of the London Olympics. This is a testament to the significance and influence wielded by the combined presence of our athletes in the arena and Jamaica House nearby. This positive, pro-Jamaica atmosphere provided the perfect environment in which to negotiate business opportunities and generate increased arrivals for Jamaica.

 

Toward this end, we:

 

o    Brought in over 300 travel agents and tour operators during Jamaica House promotions.

o    The JTB actively engaged the media, as over 600 accredited media representatives were registered and filed stories from or about Jamaica House.

o    Additionally Jamaica House facilitated face to face contact and interaction with some 18,000 visitors to the venue. Ticketing was controlled to ensure individuals did not have repeat visits; however the venue was heavily oversubscribed from its online registration system. Attendance surpassed online registration by 30% on average daily.

o    Social media was also heavily utilized as we provided a designated room for bloggers and persons who wanted to communicate via Twitter and Facebook in Jamaica House.  

o    Among the facilities were a dedicated TV broadcast room, and live radio remote broadcasts.

o    Of note, to demonstrate the peak in interest in Jamaica during the Olympics, Skyscanner, a leading flight aggregating website, reported a 53% increase in enquiries about travel to Jamaica during the period of our promotions.

 

By providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for partnership we succeeded in attracting a high level of business persons. For example, discussions took place at Jamaica House with the head of Virgin Holidays, Amanda Wills and TUI’s Managing Director for the UK and Ireland, David Burling and several others. Those two in particular, however, proved very fruitful indeed.

 

I am pleased now to announce that:

·       Virgin Holidays confirmed another flight from Gatwick to Montego Bay which represents 25,000 new seats for next year.

·       TUI finalized an extra fortnightly flight for the winter to Montego Bay and weekly flights in the summer (from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham). This will add 11,000 new seats. Of note is two of these three gateways have large Diaspora population.

Ladies and gentlemen we will continue to leverage the outstanding performance of our athletes at the London Olympics in promoting the destination. Already plans are in place for our advertisement featuring Usain Bolt to be used in an on-line campaign for the UK market.

Interest in Jamaica continues to grow globally and we have invited 1,500 travel agents to visit Jamaica in five rotations starting September 6.

In closing I would like to underscore that our promotional activities in London 2012 have been extraordinarily successful. This opinion is shared by British Member of Parliament, Diane Abbott and a wide variety of officials and media houses. Evidence of this has been provided in your press kits.

The media exposure and positive publicity generated through these activities represent excellent value for money. UK media coverage of Jamaica House at O2 generated millions of viewers and readers.

 Indeed, Jamaica House was so successful that we have registered the concept to ensure that we will be able to continue this legacy at the Olympics in 2016.

As we speak, media coverage in our three major markets continues in a positive way.

Summer, to date, May through August arrivals are showing over 6% increase over last year. This represents over 32,000 additional arrivals.

Thank you.

 

Contact: 

Shelly Anglin-Smith

Public Relations Officer

Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment

64 Knutsford Boulevard

Kingston 5       

Telephone: 920-4924, 9204926 – 30, Ext. 5939

Fax: 906-0198

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