Delivering the keynote address at a Tech Beach Retreat at the Iberostar Resort in Lilliput, St. James, on December 8, Mr. Bartlett said it is against this background that the Ministry of Tourism and its public bodies have been prioritising technology as a key part of their marketing strategy going forward.
“As Tourism Minister of a tourism-dependent nation, my Ministry and its public bodies have made innovation an essential element of our agenda to enhance the sector’s competitiveness,” Mr. Bartlett noted.
“We have introduced applications that have made it easier for local producers to market and distribute their products and increase their customer base, while at the same time making it easier for stakeholders to access market and management data, share information and build trading partnerships,” he added.
He said that the adoption of online market information platforms has helped local producers to access centralised information about organisations, adding that “it also assists” production nodes and business information that may help them to make more informed decisions on investment or identify new suppliers or customers.
Mr. Bartlett said that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry and its public bodies also found creative ways to adjust to sharply declined international tourist arrivals.
“When most international borders closed, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) quickly sprang into action by developing several campaigns and digital content series,” the Minister added.
“We introduced virtual Tours of Jamaica as a content series that provides visual inspiration to travellers to add Jamaica to their itineraries by showing short tours of destination hotspots such as Dunn’s River Falls in St. Ann, Blue Lagoon in Portland, Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Exploring Montego Bay, and the Rustic Luxury of the South Coast,” he noted.
Mr. Bartlett said that the JTB also added a new and exciting feature to its visitjamaica.com platform with the launch of the ‘My Heartbeats JA’ microsite, which allows visitors to book their wedding, honeymoon, or romantic getaways.
He said that the country’s strong presence in the virtual marketplace was affirmed by the fact that local hotel properties executed more than 100 virtual weddings, while last year’s staging of Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), made possible through weekly destination webinars hosted by JTB Regional Sales Teams, was the largest in history.
“Despite the challenges, we also forged ahead and hosted other signature events in 2020, such as the Christmas in July Trade Show, Style Jamaica Shopping Showcase, the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference, Spa Standards Sensitisation Workshops, the Jamaica Rum Festival, and our Speed Networking event – using virtual formats,” the Minister added.
Mr. Bartlett said that in the final analysis, those in the travel and hotel industry “who use these technologies” to help customers “through these difficult times” are likely to bounce back more quickly and see their customers return.
He argued that not only can it increase demand and move faster than their human counterparts but can also be deployed to save businesses considerable financial losses and prepare them for the “new normal” that will define the post-COVID-19 tourism industry.
“Overall, the trend towards a digital marketplace in the tourism sector is also poised to intensify post-COVID-19. Most travel and tourism-related business, including destination research, booking, and paying for experiences during a vacation, will be done virtually.
The trend thus instructs all tourism enterprises, micro, small, medium-sized, and large, to find ways to embrace digital technologies and develop their digital architectures or face the risk of being left behind,” the Minister said.
Tech Beach Retreat, under the theme ‘Redefining the Future’, runs from December 8 to 10.