Kingston Crisis: an opportunity for Jamaica?

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By Bevan Springer
New York Amsterdam News

KINGSTON CRISIS: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR JAMAICA?

NEW YORK (July 15,
2010) – Out of every crisis, there’s an opportunity, and Jamaicans – while
clearly unhappy with the recent “Dudus developments” that
brought chaos to a section of the capital, Kingston – are finding a
silver lining in the clouds of chaos that negatively impacted the nation
over the past several weeks.
Hindered by travel advisories following the civil unrest and tragic loss
of life in West Kingston, before the eventual arrest of Tivoli Gardens don
and alleged drug dealer Christopher “Dudus” Coke, Jamaica has
embarked on the tough assignment of restoring the image of a destination
known for peace, love and a tourism experience that has earned top ranks
in the Caribbean.
While tourism marketers work hard to comfort travelers that the tourist
centers of Montego Bay, Negril and Ochos Rios and even the capital of
Kingston were unaffected by the brief bout of inner
city neighborhood violence, they have reasons to be assured that
their efforts will bear fruit.
As well as the millions the Government has added to the
tourist board’s marketing arsenal to help restore the image of Jamaica,
the island has natural consumer appeal, not just because of its
beauty, but because of its friendly people, not the least the late Bob
Marley whose lyrics and melodies continue to feature in Jamaica’s
television commercials.
Following my recent visit to Kingston to “check out the vibes,” I
was asked by a Trinidadian colleague whether it was safe to confirm
travel plans to visit Kingston for Caribbean Fashion Week last month.
I assured him that everything was indeed “cris” and the Jamaica that
the world loves, is that same Jamaica today.
Every Caribbean island or metropolitan city for that matter has had
to deal with one public relations nightmare or another, but the
negative news and sometimes sensational reporting should not deter travelers from
visiting.
Besides the fact that we know Jamaica will recover, what are some of the
immediate opportunities for this island whose economy is expected to lose
hundreds of millions of dollars from the fallout from
the “Dudus” affair?
It’s an opportunity for both the public and private sector players
to rethink, refocus, and reposition marketing strategies.
It’s an opportunity to sharpen social media messages to the millions who
get their information from Facebook and Twitter.
It’s an opportunity to deepen linkages with the Jamaican Diaspora – the
media, community leaders, the business community and the clergy – and
equip them with the tools to promote their homeland to world audiences.
It’s an opportunity to hit the road and renew relationships with travel
agents and tour operators who sell the destination.
And it’s an opportunity to introduce travel agents, tour operators, the
media and influencers in the Diaspora to refreshed resorts and
new attractions that have been recently unveiled on the island.
The good news is that Jamaica’s tourism executives and public relations
representatives have in fact spared no energies seizing these
opportunities.
So, all things being equal, in the months ahead, thousands of travelers
should in fact “come to Jamaica and feel alright.”

Bevan Springer, a New York Amsterdam News
columnist who writes frequently on travel and tourism issues, is the
President of the New Jersey-headquartered
Marketplace Excellence, Inc. [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103572496792&s=10950&e=001gRAax_crkryJU0_mLUcuiKPmYgyVKhc3PxhXttOXXdpoO6F-NQ4ez8eWR7nhHn12Bys_eUnHpWd_DyxVCLHW0Qao0Dh3FJVoJS4N-Qld2DpKtpzgrRwWUbYJPXYpVZ7j]-
a full service, integrated
marketing agency committed to excellence in the fields of public
relations, marketing and media coaching. Healso produces the Caribbean Media Exchange
on Sustainable Tourism –
CMEx.