Donnie Dawson-JTB Deputy Director of Tourism with responsibilities for the Americas

Noel Thompson – Contributor

The Jamaican tourism sector could get a well needed cash injection with the projection of more than 700,000 airline seats coming into the island from the U.S. over the upcoming summer period.


This is to the credit of the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB) aggressive marketing strategies being undertaken in North America (its biggest market) in the most unprecedented time globally.


The JTB’s deputy director of tourism with responsibilities for the Americas, Donnie Dawson, announced the projections during a recent virtual customer service training exercise for the island’s immigration, customs and police officers. The event was spearheaded by the JTB and is held annually since 2019, except for last year due to the lockdown.


“I forecast that arrivals in Jamaica will start to increase by this June. We have a healthy airline seat allocation for this summer, which is approximately 20 per cent less in comparison to May 1, through August 31, 2019. This averages just over 700,000 seats coming out of the US,” Dawson asserts.


Dawson, said Jamaica will see two daily flights coming out of Dallas, Texas; two daily flights out of Newark, New Jersey and four out of Atlanta. American Airlines will provide three daily flights out of Charlotte, North Carolina.


“It is looking good. I am predicting that we are going to start seeing growth starting June 1. It will be a gradual growth, but one that will be sustained until we return to pre-pandemic levels. We will be promising a safe and relaxing vacation atmosphere to our visitors and we want you to deliver on our promises,” Dawson told the officers.


FUTURE LOOKS ENCOURAGING
Said Dawson: “We are going through a very trying time now with the pandemic. However, we have to look towards the future and the future looks encouraging. As more people get vaccinated globally, the situation will change and revert to pre-pandemic levels.”
He reminded the officers that they are the first line of persons whom visitors come in contact with. “You can make or break their experience. You are so critical to what we do. It is unbelievable, but it’s true. I fully understand all the headaches and stresses that you have to encounter and we embrace you wholeheartedly.”


Noting that the real selling of our island begins when the tourists disembark their aircraft at the airports, Dawson said, collectively, all Jamaicans should ensure that their vacation is enjoyable and that they are satisfied.
Dawson also emphasized the importance of the region’s travel and tourism market to the Jamaican economy. “The Caribbean is a very important market for Jamaica, as the people in the region often support our sports, carnivals and music festivals, among other activities,” he noted.

He added that the Canadian and the Diaspora markets are also of significant importance to Jamaica, particularly with the huge traffic that comes out of Florida, New York and Toronto.


And, with Brand Jamaica remaining a dominant feature in the international arena, Dawson reminded the officers that all Jamaicans – locally and in the Diaspora, are part of that brand.

“We own Brand Jamaica and it is our duty to market and sell the brand. The genuine hospitality of our Jamaican people is the biggest selling point for us,” he stated.