Jamaica businesses advised to market better

KINGSTON, Jamaica, January 29, 2009 – Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has advised business owners to pursue smarter, more effective marketing strategies in order to maintain market share during these turbulent economic times.

Addressing a function to launch the Jamaica Employers Federation’s, (JEF) 27th Annual Business and Workplace Convention and Exposition 2009, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston this week, Bartlett said the ministry has taken the position that “now is the time for us to spend on marketing because maintaining your market share is everything”.

He said that the strategy is bearing fruit with the country maintaining as well as “stealing” market share, which has resulted in an increase in the number of Canadian tourists visiting the island. He said that in November last year, the Canadian market increased by 53 per cent, and at the end of December, some 230,000 Canadians had visited the island.

“We did that because we took market share from the Dominican Republic, Cancun and Cuba. We were able to do that because we have been very active in the marketplace, and also because we have expanded brands in the accommodation sub-sector to include a number of brands that are known in Canada already,” he pointed out.

Suggesting other ways in which businesses can remain afloat as the world economic crisis deepens, the Tourism Minister said it is important to remain on the cutting edge of technology. “You have to design and determine new ways, methods, processes on a daily basis, and to be able to do that, you need to know what is happening around you,” he noted.

Bartlett said further that during this financial climate, where yields from products are lower, the value of goods or services must remain high, while prices remain competitive.

“It is the higher volume that is going to make for the profitability in the end,” he said. “You need strong product; make sure that your product continues to be of the highest quality; make sure that your service is of the highest level, make sure that the environment in which you are operating is optimised by what you do, and how well you do it. Leverage the power of your brand, strengthen or create a new brand.”

Bartlett has held up Jamaica as a good example of a tourism destination in the Caribbean that is still growing even in these turbulent times. He credited that to the fact that the government has responded faster to the economic downturn than many others within the region.

“We have created perhaps the first critical stimulus package to be announced in the Caribbean. That stimulus package has given an opportunity for all the sectors to get a breather and be able to respond to the impact of the meltdown that is happening,” he said.

The JEF’s convention and exposition, themed: ‘Succeeding in Turbulent Times: Partnership, Performance, Productivity’, takes place from May 21 to 24 this year. According to Convention Director, Patrick Sterling, the event will involve industry players exhibiting different products and services, while providing the opportunity for networking within the industry.