Diaspora driving Jamaican tourism

As a “Thank You” to the Jamaican Diaspora community, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) recently hosted a special reception in midtown Manhattan.

The hosts thanked nationals for being integral to the success of tourism to Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston.

A wide cross section of persons from this key target group, comprising members of the alumni associations, businesses, clergy, community groups, not-for-profit organizations, and unions attended the invitation-only event, hosted by Jamaican internet sensation “Dutty Berry.”

Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook in his remarks reiterated the importance of the Diaspora to the island’s tourism.

“You’re our ambassadors and we thank you for your ongoing support over the years,” he said.

“We are happy to report that overall arrivals for the winter of 2015 are up five percent,” added Pennicook, disclosing that final figures through March indicate an increase of 9.8 percent from the United States.

He said New York State is up 11.8 percent, stating that, more importantly, non-resident Jamaicans arrivals are up 5.8 percent overall. For the month of March, he said there was an increase of 15.7 percent.

Pennicook also said that 25 percent of the visitor traffic to Jamaica arrives in Kingston.

He said persons visiting the North Coast can now choose to arrive through the Norman Manley International Airport.

“Some of you may not know, but one third of the North-South link of the highway is now completed,” the Jamaican tourism director said. “This has already chopped 25 minutes off the Kingston to Ocho Rios journey because persons are now able to bypass Mount Rosser.”

Additionally, he said the rest of that highway should be completed by the first quarter of 2016, adding that it will make the journey from Kingston to Ocho Rios less than an hour.

Among the government officials in attendance at the special reception were: Amb. Courtenay Rattray, Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Herman G. LaMont, Jamaica’s New York Consul General; and New York State Sen. Leroy Comrie.

The three-hour program comprised airline and hotel giveaways throughout the evening, along with live entertainment.

Refreshments were supplied by Caribbean Food Delights, Country Kitchen, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, The Door Restaurant, Tower Isles, and Grace Foods.

Participating airline partners included Caribbean Airlines, Delta, Fly Jamaica, and JetBlue, which all donated tickets for giveaways.

Hotel sponsors included the Altamont Court, the Jamaica Pegasus, the Knutsford Court, and Spanish Court, which all donated weekend stays.

VIP Attractions also donated complimentary lounge passes. Other partners include the Jamaica New York Consulate General, Victoria Mutual Building Society and VP Records.

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