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The 23rd staging of the island’s premier tourism trade show, Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), got underway at the Montego Bay Convention Centre Sunday, April 28, with hundreds of local and international participants.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who addressed the opening, said the large turnout of buyers, suppliers, travel agents and media practitioners from the traditional and emerging markets, which is one of the most impressive in recent times, shows that JAPEX remains a vital institution for Jamaica’s tourism sector.

“The growing interest in and attendance at JAPEX of this number of international delegates, not only underscores the fact that JAPEX remains a vital institution for the tourism sector, but is also proof of the attractiveness of our tourism product and the strength of brand Jamaica in the international marketplace,” he stated.

He mentioned the “very strong” representation from the United States of America (USA), Canada, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and the good showing from the non-traditional and new markets.

“Given our efforts at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) to penetrate these markets, I am particularly pleased to be able to welcome the large number of delegates from Latin America, as well as Europe, including representatives from countries such as Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. We also have a contingent of some 24 media representatives from the USA, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean,” he stated.

Dr. McNeill commended the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the JTB for their “tremendous” work in organising the annual event and “for once again, bringing together, some of our most vital tourism partners.”

“I would also like to commend the JHTA for its outstanding work in championing the cause for players in the sector and for its unwavering support for crucial initiatives being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment. This synergistic relationship continues to foster the sustainable development of the tourism sector from the resort level,” Dr. McNeill stated.

On Monday and Tuesday, April 30, wholesalers and tour operators will meet face-to-face with close to 150 of Jamaica’s leading tourism suppliers on the convention floor, to conduct business negotiations.

By Glenis A. Rose, JIS Reporter