What’s New in Jamaica


Author Joe Pike mingles with some traditional Jamaican dancers in front of the Jamaica Tourist Board building in Kingston

Travel Agent recently visited Jamaica as part of our coverage of the destination’s 50 years of independence and came back with some news and notes that Caribbean specialists may want to know about.

More Cruise Lines Expected to Call on Falmouth, Town to Get New Margaritaville

We recently toured the Historic Falmouth Port, considered by some to be Jamaica’s greatest ever accomplishment in the cruise industry, and learned of some future plans for the already-immensely popular port of call.

William Tatham, vice president of cruise shipping and marina operations at The Port Authority of Jamaica, told us that Royal Caribbean, the first cruise line to call to Falmouth and the company that help facilitate the Falmouth development plans, doesn't have exclusivity to the port. It is open to all cruise lines.

Tatham says the cruise lines that have expressed interest and have had discussions with Carnival, Holland American and MSC is already booked at Falmouth for future calls.

“Pretty much all of the major lines are already booked or are already looking,” he says.

Tatham told us other plans for the port include a new Margaritaville at the shops and restaurant area at the pier. Tatham said it will represent the largest investment in the Caribbean as of late the project will include water slides and an overturned pirate ship, making it a huge family attraction. Tatham says he expects that project to begin by early spring or next summer.

Historic Falmouth Port, a $220 million cruise destination, officially opened in March of last year. Located along Jamaica’s north shore between Montego Bay and Ochos Rios, the new cruise destination is a joint project of the Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Visit www.cruisingpower.com or www.cruisejamaica.com.

Jamaica Looks to Change Long-Time Ad Campaign

“Once you go, you know” could be ancient history very soon.

We recently spoke to several members of the Jamaica Tourist Board who told us that the popular tag line, promoting the wonders and adventures of Jamaica, could be changed soon.

The “Once you go, you know” campaign has been in existence for roughly 10 years, says Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr. Kenneth Wykeham McNeill

"The current campaign has been a very successful campaign, but we are making a determination to redoing the advertising campaign,” he says. “We need to look at all the things that Jamaica has to offer and a market that is constantly changing. And, at the same time, we are looking at the new media - possibly making changes to the website, and further getting involved with Facebook, Twitter and other social media."

Instead of targeting first-time visitors to Jamaica, as the current campaign does, the new campaign will instead have a heavy focus on attracting repeat visitors.

Jamaica has a huge repeat business and that’s because of the product that we have,” Director of Tourism John Lynch says, noting that Jamaica has more licensed attractions than the rest of the Caribbean as a whole.

Although he wouldn’t give the full details, Lynch hinted that the new campaign would center around a Jamaican icon like Bob Markey and would have a “One Love” theme. Lynch says the subsequent tagline would be something along the lines of, “Now that you have gone.” Visit www.visitjamaica.com.

Couples Resorts Eyeing Expansion

Travel Agent recently chatted with Paul Issa, deputy chairman of Couples Resorts, and learned that the company is considering expanding beyond its current four-resort portfolio and is eyeing destinations outside of Jamaica.

According to Issa, Couples Resorts is eye balling such islands as St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Turks and Caicos and Grenada. He says St. Lucia is the likely choice. He also says Grenada is a strong possibility as well.

Couples Resorts current portfolio includes Couples Tower Isle, Couples Sans Souci, Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away, all located within Jamaica. Visit www.couples.com.

SuperClubs Looks to Expand at Least Two of its Properties

Although no time frame was given, John Issa, executive chairman of Superclubs International Ltd., told us there are preliminary plans in place to expand two resorts in the company’s portfolio.

Issa says the amount of rooms being offering at Spanish-owned all-inclusives through the Caribbean hasn’t influenced his business model but could influence the number of his hotel rooms.

“It used to be that a 200-250-room resort was a big resort, but now that’s considered to be a boutique,” he told us. "By increasing supply, (the Spanish hotel) put a damper on pricing. So, what I'm working on is increasing the size of the hotels I have. They all have room for expansion.”

Although Issa is looking for expansion at most of his resorts, for now, he is targeting a resort in Negril and another in the Bahamas.

“For Breezes Grand Negril, I have plans for another 250 rooms and another 200-300 rooms in the Bahamas,” says Issa, referring to Breezes Bahamas. Visit www.breezes.com/jamaica and www.superclubs.com.

New Majority Shareholder of Pegasus Hotel Announces Upcoming Refurbishments

We sat down with famed Jamaican hotelier and entrepreneur, Kevin Hendrickson, whose Surrey Hotel Management Group company became the majority shareholder of the iconic The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel last October, and learned about his plans for refurbishing a Jamaican landmark.

Hendrickson told Travel Agent that the hotel will not be closed at anytime and will undergo a multi-phase renovation beginning this October.

Hendrickson told Travel Agent that the first phase of the plan will incorporate extensive work in the public areas and restaurants, while the second phase will include upgrades to the bedrooms and meeting rooms. Hendrickson also pointed out that the work will not disrupt clients. Visit www.jamaicapegasus.com.

And keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com/Caribbean for all the hottest news to come out of the region.


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