Jamaica News: The Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), the annual tourism trade show, is currently in progress at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, with an impressive group of buyers and sellers networking to advance the industry.
Hosted by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), in collaboration with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the three-day event (September 23 to 25) sees JHTA members (suppliers), including hotels and attractions, meeting with overseas hospitality and tourism industry wholesalers (buyers) and travel agents to showcase their businesses and negotiate and confirm rates for winter 2018 and beyond.
“JAPEX has been successfully bringing together the suppliers of Jamaica’s tourism product with the global buyers in the travel industry for some 28 years, and each year, the number of participants keeps growing and growing,” Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, tells JIS News.
“And 2018 is no exception. In addition to local suppliers, which comprise 91 companies and 197 delegates, we have a large contingent of buyers (represented by 69 companies and 97 delegates) from across the world, including Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, the United States and as far away as Nigeria,” the Minister adds.
Mr. Bartlett tells JIS News that JAPEX provides the perfect platform for local suppliers, especially the smaller players, to get much-needed exposure and presence in the marketplace where they can create “personal relationships” with global buyers.
He notes that many of the smaller properties and attractions would otherwise have not had the opportunity to go to some of the big trade shows and expositions overseas, thus losing out on some invaluable contacts.
“JAPEX gives them the opportunity to interact directly with key industry players. The results have been amazingly encouraging and the tourism sector has been the better for it,” the Minister adds.
Mr. Bartlett says he is pleased to see the country’s Tourism Linkages Network well represented at the JAPEX Expo, noting that this will “continue to deepen the linkages between tourism and other key sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture and entertainment”.
He says there is also a heavy international media presence from the USA, Canada, Europe, Latin America and also from the region, with the aim being to push Jamaica aggressively in the marketplace as a first-choice destination.
“The importance of JAPEX cannot be overemphasised. It is the single most important business to business travel trade show for Jamaica’s tourism industry,” the Minister argues.
“What JAPEX also does is to provide a fantastic opportunity to renew relationships and build partnerships that are so important to tourism’s success. We cannot rely solely on destination marketing to build and maintain a strong brand for our destination. Public-private partnerships have a fundamental role to play in the tourism growth agenda, and we welcome platforms, such as JAPEX, which afford such opportunities and interactions,” Mr. Bartlett says.
For his part, President of the JHTA, Omar Robinson, tells JIS News that Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage makes it a natural draw for tourists, adding that some buyer delegates have been asking about heritage tours, featuring the history of the Maroons and the Blue and John Crow Mountains.
“We have a duty to respond to the needs of the customers, and that is why we have a show like JAPEX. As the Tourism Minister rightly points out, it’s more than just the sand, sun and sea. The customer wants more than just the beach. The tourist wants to experience the culture of the destination also, and we are here to facilitate that through this important trade show,” Mr. Robinson says.
Source: JIS News