Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett has indicated that tapping into the Japanese outbound market is a priority for the Caribbean country, as the destination continues its strong recovery from the pandemic. The announcement follows fruitful discussions with Senior Executives of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) during the Tourism Expo Japan in Tokyo.
“Japan represents a key market for reengagement given the country’s outbound travel of over 20 million in 2019 and the strong cultural and diplomatic connections with Jamaica. The timing is also perfect as COVID-19 restrictions in Japan are set to be lifted by October 11,” said Minister Bartlett.
JATA is one of the largest associations of travel agents that have over 1,000 active travel companies, with over 500 that organise and sell overseas and domestic package tours.
Chairperson of JATA, Hiroyuki Takahashi expressed optimism in the rebound of Japanese travel and highlighted the readiness of tour operators to begin selling as restrictions are lifted. He also agreed that tourism resilience was key for recovery, as the global industry remains vulnerable to several shocks.
“There is strong synergy between Jamaica and Japan that dates back to our nearly 60 years of diplomatic partnership, and this is good base to strengthen our ties in tourism and resilience building. Now is the time to innovate and attract Japanese visitors with our authentic Jamaican experiences,” added Bartlett.
“We are seeing a pent-up demand for travel and will be capitalising on this with some of our known and beloved assets, like our Blue Mountain coffee, diverse culinary offerings and infectious reggae. Discussions with JATA is to yield a collaboration with the Jamaica Tourist Board to have a mega familiarisation trip of the best multi-lingual travel agents to Jamaica early next year, which will allow for better selling and packaging of the destination for vacation seekers,” said Donovan White, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism.
Over the next few weeks there will also be discussions with Japan Airlines and ANA Airlines to finalise code share arrangements that will allow Japanese travel agents to package and sell Jamaica with both United States and Canadian carriers.
Approximately 1.1 million Japanese travelled between April and August when the market began reopening. Data on Japanese travellers suggests that culinary experiences will remain a key motivator for travel. Other traditional motivators such as shopping, natural and scenic attractions and historic/cultural experiences will also remain key drivers.