Jamaica Gold Standard

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RCA Winner Logo Some travel trends are just that—trends, often fleeting and with limited impact on the industry as a whole. But some rare trends have lasting power that can transform a destination. Just ask Jamaica’s director of tourism

John Lynch, who is celebrating his island’s 12th Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Selling Destination in the Caribbean category. The charms of Jamaica have been one of the Caribbean’s top draws for decades, making Jamaican travel a trend that doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

“We are unusual,” Lynch says. “In our beaches, our culture, our music, our food…visitors want to experience Jamaica.” The branding of the island is one of the strongest in the Caribbean, he says, creating a fondness for the Jamaican way of life worldwide, even among those who’ve never been there. Jamaicans have been exporting their culture for decades, enticing travelers to visit the land of Bob Marley and Usain Bolt, of jerk chicken and Blue Mountain coffee.

And when they arrive, Lynch continues, they find all that they’re looking for and more. “We have been able to cultivate…the island’s beauty—our natural beauty and culture. We have a good climate, and our landscape is quite dramatic,” he explains. “And we keep improving every day. It keeps getting better and better for travel agents. There’s tremendous value and new hotel rooms, which makes us very competitive.”

Additionally, Lynch points to the Jamaica Tourist Board’s work with the airline industry to expand and maintain ease of travel between the U.S. and the island. “It’s very easy to get to [Jamaica] from the U.S. We have all the major carriers and local carriers. We benefit tremendously from the hubs in the U.S. Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Charlotte, Philadelphia—we have tremendous value there.”

And that value only continues to expand, along with the accommodations and tours available there. “I believe we have more attractions in Jamaica than all the rest of the Caribbean altogether,” Lynch says, pointing to unique outings for tourists like dry land dog sledding tours and Mystic Mountain, with its mountainside coaster. “These are very unusual things. And we have river rafting, and ziplining tours. There are lots of things to do. People don’t have to sit around in the hotel. People do go out and make use of these activities.”

Like most Caribbean islands, the economic downturn has made development more challenging, but Lynch says that travel agents will continue to watch their sales opportunities grow in 2012. “We have quite a lot of new projects in the pipeline,” he says. Details were unavailable at press time, but Lynch disclosed that the tourist board expects to attract new hotel chains in the coming year. “Some are not quite ready to be announced yet, but are moving ahead at record speed,” he promises.