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Jamaica Travel Market hailed a success

ALL SMILES: Award winners pose for a group photo at the Jamaica Travel Market gala dinner (from left) Paul Pennicook, Director of Tourism JTB, Laverne Walker, Sackville Travel, David Burling, TUI, Sarah Gatt, Kuoni, Mr Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Fox, Regional Director UK/Northern Europe JTB and Andrew Van Der Feltz, Expedia

THE INAUGURAL Jamaica Travel Market, a two-day trade show in Luton which attracted over 100 travel professionals, including UK and European buyers representing airlines, tour operators and travel agencies, has been hailed a success by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

The Warren Weir suite at the Luton Hoo Hotel was a hub of activity between September 29 and 30 as the UK leisure and tour industry buyers met face to face with 22 Jamaican suppliers who came in for the event.

Among the Jamaican contingent were representatives from Half Moon, Jamaica Inn, Palace Resorts, Sandals Resorts International, Couples, Jewels, Round Hill and Kiuki Leisure Tours.

The travel professionals also participated in the interactive workshops which were hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board to highlight Destination Jamaica which promoted the island’s offering for weddings, honeymoons and group travel.

NETWORKING: Suppliers and buyers get down to business at the Jamaica Travel Market inside the Warren Weir Suite at the Luton Hoo Hotel

Describing the first staging of the unique travel market as a resounding success, Mr Bartlett said: “We wanted a discrete market emporium which would give us a more personal attention to our buyers but also to get results that we could work with.

“The problem with some of the bigger and busier market place is that you spend a lot of time soliciting business, but with this concept, buyers are coming to you and the likelihood of concluding contracts is much higher. However there will be a need for a broader European travel discussions and the JTB will be back at the World Travel Market in November.”

The highpoint of the Jamaica Travel Market was the gala awards dinner on Thursday, September 29 which honoured a number of travel agents and tour operators who promoted Jamaica as a destination among their clients. Mr Bartlett, who was the keynote speaker at the gala dinner, handed out the awards along with Jamaica Tourist Board’s Regional Director UK and Europe, Elizabeth Fox.

JAMAICA TO THE WORLD: Kyle Mais, General Manager Jamaica Inn hotel, Ocho Rios and Diane Corrie, British Airways Jamaica office commercial manager enjoy the Jamaica Travel Market gala dinner

Six awards were handed out on the night and Sackville Travel, a leading specialist Caribbean destination travel agency, picked up one of the major ones after it was voted ‘Largest growth by a UK Travel Agency/Tour Operator in 2015’.

Receiving the award for Sackville Travel was Marketing Director Laverne Walker who said the accolade was a reflection for the tremendous year the agency had, both for flight and accommodation bookings.

She said: “We are pleased that Sackville Travel can be instrumental in providing growth in tourism for Jamaica which in turn provides employment and benefits to the economy of Jamaica. Since established in 1976, Sackville Travel have continued to work closely with the airlines flying to this region to get the best air fares for our customers especially in the off peak season, making it easier for families to return home and first time visitors to enjoy the destination.”

The other award winners were:
Kuoni, voted largest growth by a UK Tour operator in 2015;
Expedia, voted largest growth by a Online Tour Operator in 2015;
TUI UK, voted largest growth by a UK Charter Tour Operation in 2015;
TUI Nordic, voted largest growth by a Nordic Tour Operator in 2015

BUSINESS: Lea Nadege Barrett (left) Kiuki Leisure Tours sales manager and Shenika Bennett, Jamaica Tourist Board’s sales representative share pleasantries at the gala dinner

Mr Bartlett used his speech to emphasise that Jamaica’s tourism product was bucking the trend with increased arrivals over the last 12 months and also increased investments and expansion in the hotel industry which will make more rooms available as more airline routes open up to the island.

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