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JM | Nov 9, 2020

JAPEX now virtual in session

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Jamaica’s premier tourism trade show shaping up to be the biggest ever

The Jamaica Tourist Board invites travel advisors every year to attend JAPEX. (Photo: Paige Bryan/Finn Partners)

 By Durrant Pate

Jamaica’s premier tourism and attractions trade show, Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), opens today with the organisers saying this year’s showpiece is shaping up to be the biggest ever.

The annual trade show was in serious doubt because of COVID-19 and gathering restrictions. However, the event is being held virtually for the first time, from today (November 9) to November 11, given the global pandemic.

The organisers, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), have advised that JAPEX 2020 has received a record number of registrations from a range of international and regional markets such as the United States – Jamaica’s biggest source market, the United Kingdom, and growing source markets like Canada, China, Russia, Spain, India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

According to the organisers, more than 2,000 buyer and supplier delegates, travel agents and media representatives will participate in the three-day tourism industry market place. At JAPEX 2020, travel agents will get the chance to learn all about the latest industry updates and what’s happening in tourism in Jamaica at this year’s 30th staging.

JHTA past president Nicola Madden-Greig.

The trade show, which is held annually, sees hundreds of international buyers in the hotel and attractions industry across the globe gathering in Jamaica with local players showcasing their products and services and striking business deals.

DETAILS OF JAPEX 2020

Organisers say the virtual exhibition will incorporate traditional elements of trade shows, such as the opening ceremony, sessions in small groups scheduled throughout the event, and training sessions, also scheduled throughout the event.

JAPEX 2020 will also include an exhibition hall hosting interactive kiosks with shareable content and the ability to chat live with various speakers and other participants. The exhibit floor will be configured as an interactive Google map showing the regions: Negril, South Coast, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Kingston and Portland.

When the participants enter the regions, videos will be played automatically in order to encourage them to participate and discuss with the speakers. The event will also provide access to an individual Zoom meeting platform to plan in advance meetings with travel partners, a price centre to “surprise and delight” participants and encourage them to participate.

There will also be a networking lounge for participants to have discussions among each other.

JAPEX is a trade fair for making new contacts, learning about new product developments and planning trips to Jamaica with access to the best resources.

JHTA past president Nicola Madden-Greig is overseeing this year’s staging of JAPEX.

ENCOURAGING HOTELIERS AND INTEREST GROUPS’ PARTICIPATION

In his outgoing speech two months ago then JHTA President Omar Robinson encouraged his fellow hoteliers and tourism players to participate in JAPEX 2020, even amid COVID-19.

Omar Robinson (Photo: Contributed)

Robinson implored international tourism buyers “to develop mutually beneficial relationships with our local tour operators and travel agents as they stand ready to work with you”.

“The JHTA and JTB have traditionally had a collaborative relationship in marketing the island and this partnership is even more important at this time as we pivot in identifying and targeting the Generation C travelers, as well as new segments post COVID-19,” he said.

Each year there are two days of pre-scheduled appointments, wholesalers and tour operators meet face to face with close to 200 of Jamaica’s leading tourism suppliers to conduct business negotiations. Since its 1990 inception, JAPEX has been a joint project of the JHTA and JTB, supported by every Jamaican organisation involved in the development, promotion and sale of the island’s tourism product.         

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