The Jamaica Tourist Board’s Meet-the-People programme is being revamped and relaunched islandwide, in keeping with the JTB’s marketing efforts to enhance the visitor’s holiday experience on island. This is one of the strategies being employed as the Jamaica Tourist Board seeks to promote the destination’s unique offerings to a wide market while at the same time paying attention to individual tastes and preferences.
According to Director of Tourism, Mr. Paul Pennicook who addressed the Kingston relaunch on Tuesday, March 23 at the Knutsford Court Hotel., ‘new energies and resources” have been pooled in the programme in the revitalisation effort.
Officially launched in the 1970’s, the objective of the Meet-the-People programme is to provide visitors with the opportunity to meet Jamaicans in their own environment and to learn more about the island and its culture. With the support of hundreds of volunteers island-wide who play hosts to the visitors, the programme has served to enhance the island’s profile as a hospitable destination as these visitors of various backgrounds and interests experience the island’s unique lifestyle and culture through its people. Visitors who participate leave enriched with an appreciation of the destination, often forming lasting friendships.
In the revitalisation process, the “programme is going to be what is was intended to be”. The Director said. Going back to its roots, the programme would cater to a more intimate authentic Jamaican experience, he explained. Where the programme evolved over the decades into the hosting of parties for large groups, there would be greater encouragement towards hosting individuals and smaller, more intimate groups. This would mean, for example taking a visitor with similar interests into your home to participate in a hobby, share a Jamaican meal, go to church/school, or take part in any other community activity.
The Director noted that the Meet-the-People programme was a promotional tool pointing visitors to the undiscovered aspects of the island, and showing that in addition to an alluring tropical climate, white-sand beaches and warm inviting seas, Jamaica possesses many other attractive faces such as its people, its culture and heritage.
In addition to Kingston, a relaunch has been held in Ocho Rios. Others are scheduled for Port Antonio, Montego Bay and Negril for April 1, 2004.
The Western relaunch was attended by many volunteers headed by Paul Pennicook, Carole Guntley, Director-General in the Tourism Ministry and Mrs. Dana Cuffe, Coordinator of the Programme. Pioneer volunteers and new ones too, were welcomed by The Director and Volney Williams, Western Regional Manager.