A newsletter from the Jamaica Tourist Board
to keep you up-to-speed on island happenings. November 2010
Linda Boyce

Let’s Hear from the Agents!
By Mark Rogers

At the completion of the recent Jamaica mega-fam, we reached out to participating travel agents to get their feedback on their experiences. Some of the agents were old-hands when it came to touring Jamaica, while for others it was their first time on the island. Here’s what they had to say.

“I hadn’t been to Jamaica in a long time, at least a couple of years, and those were only short, one-day trips,” says Naz Hassan, co-owner of Orlando, Florida-based East West Travel & Services. “I was really impressed by Sir Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. We didn’t see much of the airport during arrival, since we were whisked through immigration to our vans, but on departure I had time to explore and found the airport very clean and very well presented, with lots of shops.”

Naz also thought the road improvements were a big plus for the island. “On previous visits traveling on the rocky roads between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, I would get sick to my stomach,” she remembers. “Now it’s a beautiful drive, with easy access to Ocho Rios.” This is an important consideration for Naz, since the time-factor is a concern for her clients, with many of them preferring short getaways.

“After this trip I would be more inclined to sell Ocho Rios,” says Naz. “It’s so pretty, and the shopping is excellent.” Naz also says hats off to the JTB for the job they did organizing travel. “I’ve booked travel for groups and groups really take it out of me,” she says. “The JTB group leader did a great job. Since most of my clients are Florida-based, Jamaica is an easy sell, and we’ll be booking more Jamaica after this trip.” There’s one improvement Naz would like to see on subsequent Jamaica fams: “I’d like to visit more hotels,” she says.
Ricke Neufeld

Rick Neufeld, owner of Complete Travel Services in Ankeny, Iowa is a veteran at Jamaica travel – his first visit was 45 years ago. His last outing to the island was five years ago. “The biggest change in Jamaica is safety,” says Rick. “Five years ago I didn’t feel safe walking through MoBay and Ocho Rios. Now there’s a feeling of security. I’d feel fine if my wife went off on her own to shop.” During the fam, Rick was especially taken with Couples Tower Isle, and the twin properties from AMResorts, Secrets St. James, Montego Bay and Secrets Wild Orchid, Montego Bay. “I’m not a big note taker,” says Rick. “A lot of those specifics I can get off the web. A trip like this gives me a chance to get a feel for a resort, its ambiance.”

Rick notes that he’ll definitely be inclined to sell more Jamaica after this trip. “The fam was operated at about the right speed,” says Rick. “They gave us free time in the afternoon. Although considering the flight connections out of Iowa, I could have used another day on-island.”

Phetamaly Nirandone is a vacation expert at Liberty Travel in Swansea, Massachusetts and the mega-fam was her first experience of Jamaica. “The Jewel Dunn’s River Resort was beautiful and the butler service they offer plays a huge role in a relaxing vacation,” says Phetamalay.” She was also impressed by Secrets St. James, Montego Bay and Secrets Wild Orchid, Montego Bay. “The resort had great sea and mountain views and I loved the room with the Jacuzzi on the balcony.”

Ramona Morris, owner/manager of Richmond, Texas-based Travel Source, has visited Jamaica ten times. “It’s my favorite island,” she says. “It all begins with the people. For example, at Sandals Negril, they’re all so friendly, from the lady at the towel counter to the top guy.”
Ramona Morris

Before departing for the fam, Ramona had some reservations. “When I was discussing the trip with my colleague, I mentioned that I hoped we wouldn’t be booked into the Sunset Jamaica Grande in MoBay, since the resort is in one of the lower categories,” says Ramona. “Well, that’s where we ended up being booked, and I have to say I was very impressed. I’m glad I experienced the resort, since I would now book Sunset for a traveler on a budget.”

Ramona gave big ups to the fam party thrown on Sandals Cay at Sandals Montego Bay. “They did a great job,” says Ramona. “I have a client who is a beach person and she loves Mexico,” says Ramona. “I convinced her to give Jamaica a try and she had a great time staying at the Iberostar Grand Rose Hall, Montego Bay.”

For a video of travel agents dancing up a storm with Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Dian Holland, Jamaica Tourist Board business development manager in Los Angeles, at the Sandals Cay party, click HERE.

“During our fam, everyone was so gracious, from the hoteliers we met to the vendors on the beach,” says Barbara Atwater, owner of Heger Travel Bureau. “The JTB ran the fam very well. I stayed in the Ritz Carlton Montego Bay and everything about it was great.” Barbara was also impressed by the Shoppes at Rose Hall and by The Jewel Dunn’s River Resort.

“Since coming back from the fam I’ve met with honeymoon clients,” says Barbara. “I told them how fabulous the Jewel was, and I recommended it even though it would mean they would have to take a connecting flight through Miami.”

Like some of the other agents, Barbara bemoaned the loss of Air Jamaica direct flights. “We lost our Air Jamaica flight out of Chicago O’Hare,” says Barbara. “It’s going to have an impact on Jamaica travel, since non-stops to Cancun are readily available.”

Linda Boyce, a Caribbean specialist with C&L Travels, has traveled to Jamaica several times. During this visit she was impressed by the highway connecting Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, and the improvements to the airport in Montego Bay “It was much easier to move through the airport on arrival,” says Linda. She also intends to begin booking her clients into the luxury five-bedroom villa Scotch on the Rocks. “The fam was a success for me because it introduced me to things I didn’t even know existed, such as Scotch on the Rocks,” says Linda.

We invite travel agents to visit the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Twitter and Facebook pages to share their experiences about the recent mega-fam. Let us know what you think!

Jamaica Connection
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