OCHO RIOS, St Ann — There are high expectations from tourism stakeholders and other sector leaders ahead of Sunday's start of the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), the country's premier annual tourism trade show at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa in Ocho Rios.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Evelyn Smith said more than 100 tour operator delegates from traditional markets of United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as delegates from important emerging markets in South America such as Brazil, Argentina and Chile have already confirmed their attendance.
Addressing a press launch at Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort on Friday, Smith said some 200 retail travel agents from the US and Canada will also participate in a special trade show segment.
She said in addition to the strong support from local media, some 35 media and travel writers from the US, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean will also attend the three-day event.
"We anticipate great success once again from this Jamaica's premier marketing event, which will facilitate at least 220 supplier delegates from all of our six resort areas, the opportunity to negotiate contracts and generally maintain and increase tourism traffic to our island," Smith said.
At the same time, Smith said a partnership with JAMPRO — which was started last year and facilitated the showing of products from other industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, arts and craft — would be reaffirmed.
"On the same marketplace floor, local tourism players will negotiate and make deals with travel professionals to increase visitor to our land and will make deals with local entities in agriculture, manufacturing, arts and crafts to secure the necessary goods and services to serve our guests while they are with us," she said.
Delaine Morgan, JAMPRO's vice-president for trade and business development, said the JAMPRO business linkage creates a platform at the JAPEX trade show for local producers and suppliers to showcase a wide range of goods and services.
Morgan said that JAMPRO was pleased with the outcomes and strong partnerships which were forged at last year's event and she said those business linkages yielded contracts valued at over J$100 m.
"At last year's event, Brand Jamaica products received maximum exposure both locally and internationally as hundreds of travel agents and a number of international journalists were in attendance," she said.
Morgan said a number of sectors — including processed food, gift and craft, fashion and apparel, information communications technology, furniture and other products — benefitted tremendously, with the processing and manufacturing sector accounting for $42 million and manufacturing accounting for $58 million.
Morgan said this year, JAMPRO was seeking to deepen its collaboration with the JHTA to enhance the successes which were realised last year. So far, she said, JAMPRO has confirmed 40 local suppliers.
Meanwhile, the Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment John Lynch said events like JAPEX play a key role in keeping Jamaica on the minds of those in the travel industry and also helps secure the country's top position in the travel market.
He said in the competitive landscape, the opportunity to focus attention of the travel trade exclusively on Jamaica was invaluable and he expressed pleasure at the number of local entities and international buyers who have already registered for the event.