The Jamaica Tourist Board’s Group and Conventions Manager, John Woolcock (far right), shares company with several members of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE Midwest Chapter), based in the United States, during their Second Annual Smart Forum, held at the Secrets Wild Orchid Resorts and Spas in Montego Bay between last Thursday through Sunday.

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), through its partnership with some of the world’s leading travel and tourism brands, continue to reap tremendous recognition from its partners on the steps being executed for the safe reopening of the tourism sector.


The most recent commendation has come from the influential travel group SITE Midwest based out of the United States, which has praised the COVID-19 protocols in place for Jamaica’s tourism sector.


Approximately 50 members of the travel incentive group, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE Midwest Chapter), visited the island for their second annual Smart Forum, held at the Secrets Wild Orchid Resorts and Spas in Montego Bay between last Thursday through Saturday. It was the first time that the forum was being held outside the US and Montego Bay was the destination of choice.


The deal was brokered by the team at the JTB Miami office and was spearheaded by its manager for groups and conventions, John Woolcock. “Kudos to the JTB and John for making this occasion a reality,” said Mike Farmer, director of sponsorship for the SITE Midwest Chapter of SITE Global (the parent body).


Many of the attendees were visiting Jamaica for the first time. Others had experienced Jamaica’s tourism product before, but this time was in stark contrast, given the pandemic onset. They have lauded the country on its COVID-19 systems in place.
Farmer, told the Western Mirror that Jamaica’s safety measures have been well coordinated to the overseas markets. “I think the protocols Jamaica has in place is perfect. It’s well communicated. The JAMCOVID website registration for travel authorization was fast and efficient. It’s great that they allow antigen test because that is readily available,” Farmer remarked.


WISE DECISION
Meantime, Woolcock, said partnering with SITE for the event was a wise decision. “It’s a great partnership. The Jamaica Tourist Board has had a long-standing relationship with SITE and so the opportunity to take part in their Smart Forum was for us a perfect fit. We had to do it and we were pleased that they selected Jamaica,” Woolcock remarked. He also highlighted that Jamaica’s airlift capacity and diversity of product also played a role in SITE coming to Jamaica for their conference.


Farmer said he was pleased with his overall experience. “I think that everything that I saw from the moment I landed in Jamaica led me to believe that this is not a wink-wink we’re COVID safe situation, but the overall demonstration proved it. People are spraying their hands and the stations they have throughout the airport. They take it seriously and I think that’s great for my audience,” said Farmer, who is also the vice president of sales with the St. Louis based Strategic Incentive Solutions.


It’s good for my audience to know and see their safety is taken seriously and even at Secrets Resorts, the protocols were practiced at a very high standard and were easy to adapt”, Farmer emphasized.


Lylibeth Eaton, Area Group Sales manager at Secrets/Breathless Resorts and Spas, said the Secrets brand is honoured to have partner with the Jamaica Tourist Board to host such an important event, adding, “we look forward to welcoming many groups to Jamaica in the near future.”


“We adhere to the COVID-19 protocols established by the Jamaican government, along our AMR Clean Complete Verification Programme to ensure the health and safety of our valued guests. The JTB has been instrumental in forming these great partnerships with hospitality industry leaders across the globe in making safe events as these a reality,” Eaton said.

Noel Thompson/Shamir Brown