Cashing in on Usain Bolt, Jamaica unveils new tourism strategy


New Delhi : Close on the heels of world’s fastest human athlete Usain Bolt’s dream run at the Beijing Olympics, his native Jamaica has unveiled a new tourism strategy to strengthen its position online to target discerning 21st century travellers, including hi-end visitors from India.

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“At the most basic level, the new is an improved means to communicate with and educate travellers about the diversity and culture of Jamaica,” the island’s tourism director Basil Smith said Wednesday as he and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett globally launched, via a live webcast, the refurbished site.

“Sure, we’re hoping to cash in on Bolt’s tremendous performance at Beijing,” Rajiv Nangia, who represents the Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) in India, told IANS here.

Bolt won golds in the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 4X100 metres relay at the Olympics, setting new world records in all three events – the first athlete to do so in a single Games since Carl Lewis in 1984.

His performance has sparked new interest worldwide in the Caribbean, which is otherwise known for its calypso music and the West Indies’ cricket team.

The West Indies, of which Jamaica is one of the largest islands, had hosted the 2007 cricket World Cup.

“Jamaica is a new destination for discerning and high-end Indian travellers. Last year, 1,008 Indian tourists visited Jamaica, which was a 100 percent ramp up over the previous year. We hope to raise this to between 2,000 and 5,000 by 2009,” Nangia added.

“The refurbished website will definitely help in this as it has an inbuilt booking facility for travellers who may want to make their plans independent of a travel agent if they wish to,” Nangia pointed out, adding that the site also has additional features to enable the travel trade better market the Caribbean nation.

The website features a fresh look with a focus on Jamaica’s tourism product offerings that go from the “roadside” to the “ritzy”.

Catering to the needs of the modern and technically savvy global traveller, the website offers a stimulated interactive online experience of the country’s diverse attractions, accommodation and indulgences, which many visitors seek before they arrive.

The website is also powered with key features including improved functionality, updated content, quicker response time, GPS tracking of favourite spots and Google Maps.

According to Smith, the new site “will be a medium to reach the travel industry and influencers around the world and to maintain Jamaica’s position as the premier Caribbean tourism destination”.

Visitors to the site will be able to explore what Jamaica offers through an engaging experience featuring the country’s people, culture, art, music, cuisine, history, attractions and diverse range of accommodation.

Greeted with an upbeat version of universal calypso hit “One Love”, visitors will be invited to use the “slider” function to navigate through Jamaica’s “ritzy” to “roadside” offerings through a flash experience, moving images and videos.

Visitors can also “flip” each image over to learn more and save their favourites in a personalised trip planning page called “My Jamaica”.

Founded in 1955, the Jamaica Tourist Board is the nation’s national tourism agency based in capital Kingston.

The JTB was declared the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist and Convention Bureau by the World Travel Awards (WTA) for 2006 and 2007, while Jamaica earned the WTA’s vote as the World’s Leading Cruise Destination, the Caribbean’s Leading Destination and the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination.