As a thank you to the Diaspora community, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) recently hosted a special reception in their honor in midtown Manhattan. The hosts thanked them for being integral to the success of tourism to Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston. A wide cross section of persons from this key target group comprising members of the alumni associations, businesses, clergy, community groups, not-for-profit organizations, and unions attended the invitation only event, hosted by Jamaican internet sensation “Dutty Berry”.
Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook in his remarks reiterated the importance of the Diaspora to the island’s tourism. “You’re our ambassadors and we thank you for your ongoing support over the years. We are happy to report that overall arrivals for the winter, that is, January through April 2015 are up five percent. Final figures through March reveal an increase of 9.8% from the US. New York State is up 11.8% and more importantly, non-resident Jamaicans (Diaspora) arrivals are up 5.8% overall, and for the month of March, there was an increase of 15.7%,” noted Mr. Pennicook.
The Tourism Director also advised the audience that 25% of the visitor traffic to Jamaica arrives in Kingston. He further noted that persons visiting the North Coast can now choose to arrive through the Norman Manley International Airport. “Some of you may not know, but one third of the North-South link of the highway is now completed. This has already chopped 25 minutes off the Kingston to Ocho Rios journey because persons are now able to bypass Mount Rosser. Additionally, the rest of that highway should be completed by the first quarter of 2016 and it is estimated that it will make the journey from Kingston to Ocho Rios less than an hour,” emphasized Mr. Pennicook.
Among the government officials in attendance at the special reception were: Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Herman G. LaMont, Jamaica’s Consul General and New York State Senator Leroy Comrie.
The three-hour program comprised airline and hotel giveaways throughout the evening along with live entertainment. Refreshments were supplied by: Caribbean Food Delights, Country Kitchen, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, The Door Restaurant, Tower Isles and Grace Foods. Participating airline partners included Caribbean Airlines, Delta, Fly Jamaica and JetBlue who all donated tickets for giveaways.