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Jamaican Jewel

Written by  Denise J. Dubé

CARIBBEAN JAPEX
Jamaica took almost two dozen top honors at the 25th World Travel Awards Caribbean & North America Gala Ceremony, held fittingly in Jamaica under September’s dazzling stars and steamy breezes at Sandal’s Montego Bay.

Jamaica Tourist Board Director Donovan White accepted the award for the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board. The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa took Leading New Resort, Melia Braco Village nabbed Leading Luxury Resort and Fleming Villa garnered Leading Luxury Hotel Villa. Ocho Rios took Leading Cruise Port, while Montego Bay won for Leading Home Port. (See magazine for the complete list.)

In a press release White said, “We’re honored to be recognized as the best in the region ... These awards are testament to the collective mission of our partners to promote the best of Destination Jamaica and together we celebrate these achievements.”

The annual WTA awards, started in 1993, recognizes top travel providers, tour operators and producers within the travel industry. Galas are held in Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and North America and the Caribbean. Finalists then compete in the same categories and are announced in November at another gala in Lisbon, Portugal. (For those results visit www.worldtravelawards.com)  

Two days after the ceremony travel agents, tour operators and suppliers, local dignitaries and media walked through island-themed lanes at Jamaica’s Montego Bay Convention Center for JAPEX, Jamaica’s Product Exchange. Booths within the mini streets showcased the island’s new, old, and most compelling offerings. Island Offerings

While some booths displayed manufactured products, airlines, hotels and villas, others showcased the dreams of Jamaica’s creative abilities. In the Artisan Village’s booth artists worked on their crafts, which included painting, sewing, weaving and a chocolatier who generously shared bars of chocolate to go with a sip of the island’s famous Appleton Rum.
The new village, located at Old Hamden Wharf in Falmouth, Trelawny is, part of the island’s vibrant fabric, one that includes Bob Marley’s home and studio, Devon House, Creighton Estates, Chukka Good Hope and so much more. They are dotted all over Jamaica, from Kingston to Montego Bay. Savvy agents will get tourists off resorts, into preplanned hotel-approved rides to these historic and notable sites.

Perhaps the village, the atmosphere, the historic locations are why White noted at the JAPEX opening, that tourism has grown every year for the last 30 years. Last year it saw a 5.4 percent increase, one that counted 2.9 million visitors by the time of the awards. This increase, he said, contributes to the island’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP.  
White also reported during the JAPEX opening that ongoing infrastructure and hotels expansions will create new tourism opportunities between the islands and beyond. “Within the next two years Jamaica [will be] fully connected by land, sea and air,” he said. “We are on track.”

It’s a track more and more tourists are choosing.  www.visitjamaica.com

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