The Jamaica Tourist Board is targeting a growth in UK visitor numbers after investing around £1 million in a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to showcase the island during the Olympic Games in London.
With athletes including Usain Bolt expected to dominate medals and headlines during the event, the JTB is to create a Jamaican entertainment and cultural village at the O2 which will also serve as the official headquarters for the Jamaica Olympic Association.
Jamaica House is being created in partnership with Jamaica Promotions Corporation and Jamaica’s Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and will also be the centre of planned UK celebrations for Jamaica’s 50th year of independence.
Jason Hall, deputy director of tourism at the JTB, said the Olympics and the 50th anniversary offered an unrivalled 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,” said Hall. “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.”
Hall said UK visitor numbers to Jamaica stood at around 180,000 in 2011 – a 5% decline on 2010 – but the JTB was targeting a 6% year-on-year increase for the 2012/13 winter season based on increased airlift and interest stimulated by the Olympics.
This would be the start of an ongoing growth strategy for tourism and Jamaican trade and investment following on from the Games .
Jamaica House will be open to the public, and will include Jamaican food and drink, musical performances from Jamaican stars including Damian Marley, Shaggy and Jimmy Cliff, and film and comedy shows.
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.
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