Travel Agent Goes One-on-One With Jamaica's New Tourism Director

paul pennicookTravel Agent chatted with Paul Pennicook Thursday and learned what the seasoned Caribbean travel industry veteran plans to bring to his second run as director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

"The main priority has to be that of keeping the destination of Jamaica at the forefront of consumers’ minds," he told Travel Agent. "Keeping the arrival numbers growing, expanding airlift to the destination, refreshing the product, diversifying our markets, all of these are part of that main priority.  It is also a priority to streamline the organization so that we are most effective in what we do."

Speaking of expanding airlift, Pennicook says he will continue the work started by former director of tourism, John Lynch, in securing airlift from Latin America, Asia and other destinations that make a great fit.

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"Both Latin America and Asia are target for Jamaica.  We will continue to seek to establish partnerships which will increase airlift to the destination," he says. "As you may be aware, only recently, Jamaica became the first international destination for Southwest Airlines.  A new airline, Fly Jamaica, is also looking to offer service to Latin America. We are prepared to work with both established and newer carriers to expand service to the destination."

The Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Dennis Morrison, announced earlier this week the appointment of Pennicook, who had previously served in this post from 2003-2006. He also spent several years as a hotelier, serving as president and chief executive officer of Couples Resorts, executive vice president of Sandals Resorts and first vice president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. Pennicook was also Air Jamaica’s senior vice president of sales and marketing from 2006 to 2008. 

"Having worked in the private sector of tourism (accommodation, marketing), and in the public sector (airlines and as Director of Tourism), I believe all of this has helped to prepare me for the role this time around," he says.

And as far as working with agents goes?

"A significant portion of our visitors still book through travel agents," he told us. "They are integral to the success of the destination. That is why we continue our Jamaica Travel Specialist program where agents have an opportunity to learn about the destination.  We also continue to offer fam trips to ensure agents are up to date on all aspects of Jamaica’s tourism product."