OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Jamaica's economy is expected to reap significant benefits from a partnership between the Ministry of Tourism and MasterCard, which will see Jamaica joining five cities in the Caribbean in the MasterCard Priceless Cities Programme.
The Priceless Cities Programme, which allows MasterCard holders to shop at discounted prices and to earn rewards from their shopping experience, was launched at Couples Sans Souci hotel in Ocho Rios last Wednesday evening.
"The concept of Priceless Cities was born from MasterCard's desire to create unique experiences in the most exciting cities in the world," said Lorena Holguin, MasterCard vice-president of marketing.
This arrangement is expected to boost the shopping experience of both locals and tourists, thus enhancing the economy.
"Once you create these experiences, it makes Jamaica unique in terms of the tourism industry. So when people see these benefits and they see these experiences, they want to come to Jamaica instead of looking at other destinations," added Ray Merceron, vice-president and territory head of the Western Caribbean for MasterCard.
Merceron, in a news release, said that with Jamaica being a major tourism destination, the new shopping experience is expected to further attract more tourists to the island.
"The success of the programme will not only bring benefits to the consumers and to our brand, but also to merchants and entities involved, as the programme will enhance the tourists' experience, who in turn will benefit the merchants through their purchases, thus helping drive the tourism sector of the country," he stated.
Thirty-seven merchants have already joined the programme, and according to Director of Tourism John Lynch, the number is expected to climb as the tourism ministry will be encouraging merchants to join the venture.
Holguin said that the programme is successful in the other Caribbean countries in which it was launched before.
"The fact that we are expanding the programme speaks for itself. If the programme wasn't working we would have stopped," Merceron said.
The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Aruba, along with Jamaica, are among the countries in the Caribbean where the programme is available.
Holguin said that MasterCard is confident that this programme will work in Jamaica.
The new shopping arrangement is not designed to replace the current MasterCard but is expected to enhance it, the representatives revealed.
All cardholders are expected to benefit, including locals who have a card.
Lynch sees this partnership as a vote of confidence in Jamaica. He said that this programme will also be great marketing for Jamaica's tourism sector.