The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is Jamaica’s national tourism agency and is responsible for worldwide tourism marketing and promotion for the island of Jamaica. Their website states that its mission is the development and marketing of the tourism industry in order to ensure that Jamaica remains the premier Caribbean tourist destination. However, it seems to me that in recent times the board has shifted away from its core objective.
The agency seems to be operating as a sponsor for the various different events held in Jamaica and it does not matter whether or not these events actually bring in tourists. I would be the first to admit that promotion is a very wide area and that many persons will have differing interpretations but in this case we must not forget that the aim is to promote the island. With this in mind the recent fiasco surrounding the staging of the Miss Jamaica Universe competition has surely not helped to promote Jamaica’s image. Whereas I could understand utilizing the winner to help with the promotion of the island, I think it is going a little too far to actually sponsor the event as who from overseas will even see this event.
There has been constant debate about the JTB’S sponsorship of the Jazz and Blues Festival. The experience over the years has been that this event is attended primarily by Jamaicans. Given that it falls in the prime of the tourist season one wonders why the JTB sees the need to sponsor it. It seems that every time I turn around I see another event being sponsored by the JTB. Yet when Calabash needed a sponsor JTB was found wanting. Now, they are one of the sponsors of a free event in new Kingston featuring Shaggy; how does that relate to tourism? I am not suggesting that they do not sponsor any events as tourists need to have more entertainment options but their primary focus needs to be on developing the international markets. By my estimates it seems that too much of their current budget goes to sponsorship
Just as the minister of tourism has spent considerable time visiting new areas in an effort to expand the number of non United States visitors, so the JTB needs to do more promotion in those countries to let them know what is available here. To develop new markets requires considerable resources and it requires a long term approach. One has to compete with all the other worldwide destinations in order to get the attention of the customer. This requires a lot of dedication and considerable hard work. It may be that the JTB finds it easier to sponsor a local event which is in the public eye than to do the work needed behind the scenes in order to diversify the arrivals.
Let us think again and rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the mission.