I had the pleasure of joining the Jamaica Tourist Board, some of their industry partners and several SoCal travel agents for the 2011 Destination Product Update in Los Angeles, CA.
Held at the Olympic Collection Conference Center, the festivities started with dinner and networking. The chicken and fish options were great, but Caribbean ambiance put me in the mood for some jerk pork, rice and peas, dumplings and akee and saltfish.
Dian Holland (Business Development Manager, Jamaica Tourist Board) was the best host and introduced the hotel partners including the Grand Palladium Resort and Spa, Sandals, etc, who gave updates on their beautiful new properties, luxurious renovations and tempting promotions.
Next up, Philip Rose (District Sales Manager, Jamaica Tourist Board), gave his “unscripted” update of what’s new from his island birthplace. From completed road construction and new convention center plans to the difference between a rasta and a rascal, Philip kept the crowd engaged and entertained. Amongst the the jokes and laughs, he shared interesting historical facts about the country and its people. Did you know Jamaica was the first country in the Western hemisphere to build a railway and one of only two countries with no red, white or blue in its flag? Sadly Philip also had to dispel the myth that all Jamaicans are dark skinned rastas with dreads that smoke ganja all day. (You’d be surprised how many people (travel professionals included) still buy into this stereotype).
Jamaicans truely epitomize their country’s motto, Out of Many, One People as their ancestry can be traced back to Spain, England, Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East, etc. This rich heritage is conveyed throughout the island’s delicious cuisines, creative music, dance and art and breathtaking sights.
This was my first time at this type of event. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but since leaving, I’ve had Jamaica in my head and hope to return in the short term. I am particularly excited to try out the Meet the People Program, a free service offered by the Jamaica Tourist Board that connects you with a Jamaican host or volunteer with a similar profession, hobby or interest. In my last visits, I had no problem connecting with locals who gave me a sneak peek into their world, but would love to connect with social media and marketing folks on the next trip as well.
Weather your’e looking to get married or renew vows, laze on the beach, fruity drink in hand, immerse yourself in the culture or party the night away to some of the best music in the world, Jamaica has something for you!