Jamaica woos UK visitors during Olympics

The Jamaica Tourist Board is taking advantage of the fact that all eyes will be on London next month, by showcasing the island during the Olympics with a £1 million campaign aimed at attracting more British visitors to its sun-soaked shores.

The tourist office is capitalising on the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to promote the best Jamaica has to offer and will feature a special Jamaican entertainment and cultural village at the O2 which is also the official HQ for the Jamaica Olympic Association.

Jamaica House will be open to the public, and visitors will be treated to Jamaican food and drink, with music by reggae legends Damian Marley, Shaggy and Jimmy Cliff.
It will also include a Bob Marley exhibition and a pop-up Virgin Holidays concession and is expected to attract a host of celebrities and Jamaican athletes between August 3-12. Events celebrating Jamaica’s fifty years of independence under the banner Jamaica50 are also planned.

There are high hopes for its athletes including the legendary sprinter Usain Bolt, three time Olympic medallist, and the Jamaican team is expected to bring home a number of medals after London 2012.

Jason Hall, deputy director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board, said the Olympics and the 50th anniversary offer an exceptional opportunity to showcase the island to the UK and a global audience, and also encourage members of the Jamaican diaspora in the UK to return to join the celebrations.

“The Beijing Olympics gave us great publicity, but we didn’t have an official base from which to take real advantage," he said. "Jamaica House at the O2 will allow us to bottle the enthusiasm and euphoria around the Olympics and Jamaica50 and showcase everything we have to offer.”

Jamaica is famous as a honeymoon hotspot and a dream timeshare destination and popular with US timeshare owners in particular. Mr Hall said UK visitor numbers to Jamaica have declined slightly, with arrivals around 180,000 in 2011 – down 5% compared to the same period for 2010, but the tourist board is hoping for a 6% increase for the 2012/13 winter season which weather experts are predicting will be colder than normal in the UK.

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