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• Master of Ceremonies
• Hon. Damion Crawford, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment
• Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith and other Ministry officials
• Chairmen of JAMVAC and JTB, Paul Pennicook and Dennis Morrison
• Mrs Evelyn Smith, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association
• Mr. John Lynch, Director of Tourism
• Members of the media
• Delegates and tourism partners all
Let me first apologise on behalf of the Most. Hon. Prime Minister, who unfortunately is not able to be with us this evening, due to unforeseen circumstances, which at the very last moment have prevented her from joining us.
As a former Minister of Tourism herself, if it were at all possible she would have been here, given her unwavering support and commitment to the development of this all-important sector.
Therefore the pleasurable task now falls on me to say to you welcome to Jamaica and in particular Montego Bay, the complete resort. I am very pleased to be here with you all this evening as we gather to celebrate and transact business around one of the most loved and recognizable brands- JAMAICA!
Tonight marks the official opening of this the 23 rd. staging of JAPEX. Once again we have very strong representation of delegates from the USA, Canada, Germany, Spain and the UK. But equally important is the fact that we again have a contingent of representatives from non-traditional and new markets.
Given our efforts at the Jamaica Tourist Board to penetrate these markets I am particularly pleased to be able to welcome the large number of delegates from Latin America as well as Europe including representatives from countries such as Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Ireland and the Czech Republic.
We also have a contingent of some 24 media representatives from the USA, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean.
I extend a warm Jamaican welcome to you all and a special welcome to those of you who are participating for the first time. Your presence is an indication that JAPEX continues to be a symbol of growth, which enjoys strong support from our tourism partners.
JAPEX 2013, has attracted some 94 buyer delegates overall, which represents one of the largest delegations of overseas buyers for the event in recent years.
The growing interest in and attendance at JAPEX of this number of international delegates not only underscores the fact that JAPEX remains a vital institution for our tourism sector, but is also proof of the attractiveness of our tourism product and the strength of brand Jamaica in the international marketplace.
This event takes place in a period of transition in Jamaica’s tourism industry which is taking place against the background of continuing instability in many of our significant source markets.
Nevertheless, much work is being done to ensure the continued growth and development of the sector. We will soon resume our accustomed profile in our markets with new advertising, which is now being developed.
Our marketing strategies will make more effective use of new media to drive interest in and demand for Jamaica as a vacation destination.
The foundation of our tourism sector remains firm and the industry continues to grow. Investment prospects for the industry are very promising and several new investors have acquired existing properties, new brands have come on board, while other hotels chains are either planning to expand or will be constructing new properties.
Ladies and gentlemen, this trade-show will provide the players in the sector with a boost and set the stage for continued success in business in the coming winter season.
Let me congratulate the JHTA and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) for once again bringing together some of our most vital tourism partners for JAPEX 2013 and wish all the participants, delegates, buyers and sellers all the very best during this important event.
I would also like to commend the JHTA for its outstanding work in championing the cause of players in the sector and for its unwavering support for crucial initiatives being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.
This synergistic relationship continues to foster the sustainable development of the tourism sector from the resort level.
While JAPEX is an important forum for building connections and deepening relationships to drive growth in visitor arrivals to Jamaica; JAPEX, in even more profound ways, is also about the linkages with the domestic economy.
It is about the small farmer in rural St. James; in neighbouring Trelawny or in St. Ann, who depends on the successful deals made at this event to sell his produce to grace the tables of our fine properties.
It is about the strong, independent mother who cares for her family and motivates her children to study hard, excel in school and to join the employment ranks of the tens of thousands of Jamaican hospitality workers, who are the bedrock of our world-class tourism industry.
JAPEX is about the hotel professional and worker, whose natural tendency for hospitality and superior customer service, gives Jamaica a distinct relevance in the global tourism business.
So this event is not only important to us as industry partners but it is important to every Jamaican.
I again thank you for being here with us at JAPEX 2013 and wish that all your deliberations, appointments and efforts to negotiate sales and purchases will be mutually beneficial. Let me also encourage you to set aside some time to enjoy the appeal and attractions of our tourism capital, Montego Bay. Be sure to sample our tantalizing cuisine, gyrate to our intoxicating music and meet our hospitable people.
While you are here, take note also that our host venue The Montego Bay Convention Centre, will again be home to Caribbean Marketplace in 2014. I hope to once again see you out in your numbers as you attend the region’s premier trade-show in a few months.
It is with these thoughts that I take immense pleasure in declaring JAPEX 2013 officially open.