AS of this summer, Jamaican residents will be able to enjoy a special rate at a number of local hotels as stakeholders ramp up efforts to boost domestic tourism.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett could not provide a specific date for the roll-out but promised that it should be fully implemented before the winter tourist season begins.
“We've been working on it to commence for summer. I can't give you a specific time, but I believe that we will see some of it for this summer. But, certainly, by September, we should have a clear position on it,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Clifton Reader confirmed that discussions are under way among members to reach a consensus on the discount to be offered.
“Some of them responded in a positive way, but we haven't had a chance yet to survey the entire membership. We will be putting it out to [them] because this only came up recently, so it's not that we have gone in and fleshed it out or anything as yet,” he said. “But some people said that they've been doing it already and some of the ones that weren't doing it said it's something they will participate in.”
The suggestion is for a fixed discount that applies to all rates from the lower to the higher end of the market. Reader is hoping to convince the tourism ministry to promote participating properties on the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) website as an incentive for more of them to get on board with the initiative.
“The staycation concept was developed [to boost domestic tourism],” said Reader. “It can be further enhanced with the special rate, [which would be] a fixed percentage discount.”
In July 2020, with the launch of the 'Rediscover Jamaica' campaign being promoted by the JTB, tourism stakeholders and COVID-19 Resilient Corridor interests urged more Jamaicans to enjoy the country's wide range of tourism products and attractions. According to the JHTA president, the move paid off with locals — who could not go abroad for their usual vacation because of the pandemic — instead discovering many of Jamaica's hidden gems.
“We are ready with the product but we just have to entice Jamaicans to utilise those products, and one way is preferential rates for them,” he said.
Boosting domestic tourism is among the list of opportunities identified for the global tourism sector in a United Nations World Tourism Organisation survey on members' priorities for 2022-2023.