There’s a surge of smiles and joy on social media this week as an esteemed group of Canadian travel advisors, alongside the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), are participating in a special “Irie Hour FAM" trip in Jamaica.
Irie Hour is the name of a regularly scheduled “chill and chat” forum on Zoom that the JTB launched in May 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated.
The fun and informative virtual session shines a bright light on tourism developments in Jamaica while encouraging a positive, supportive and festive environment online.
The program, notably, also features on-location videos from island-based correspondents and suppliers that provide authentic, on-the-ground updates as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
The 50 travel advisors participating in this week’s Irie Hour FAM from Oct. 23-29 are those who have been supportive of the JTB through thick and thin.
"A resilient and loyal community of travel advisors has emerged from our Irie Hour chill and chat Zoom series,” as Angella Bennett, regional director of tourism for Canada at the JTB, told PAX.
Bennett is currently on location in Jamaica, accompanying the lively group with JTB staff, including Dan Hamilton, Louise Paquette, Racquel Queensborough, Emma Madsen, Judy Nash and Jerron Britton.
“These agents are highly trained and confident in selling a Jamaica vacation throughout a pandemic and are informed and educated on our current Jamaica CARES protocol,” Bennett said.
With air provided by WestJet, the itinerary in destination is pretty amazing.
Divided into two groups, agents are experiencing top-notch properties such as Secrets Wild Orchid, Secrets St. James, Breathless Montego Bay, Royalton Blue Waters, Excellence Oyster Bay, Zoëtry Montego Bay, RIU Montego Bay, Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites, and Ocean Coral Spring.
Jamaica Tours and Island Routes are also taking attendees on fun excursions, such as a catamaran cruise, while incorporating local eats, including a jerk lunch at Scotchies, a popular local restaurant.
The immersive experience is allowing the JTB to give advisors a first-hand look at Jamaica after 18 months of coping with pandemic-related challenges.
“Our travel advisors are so important to Jamaica,” Bennett said. “To show our thanks, our hotel and airline partners are rolling out the red carpet to receive them.”
New PCR testing service
The trip is unfolding after the JTB, on Monday (Oct 25), announced a more accessible and affordable approach to PCR testing on the island.
Canadian visitors can now able to book their required pre-departure COVID-19 molecular test directly through Baywest Wellness Clinic and Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) for $75 USD (inclusive of taxes), a reduction of more than 50 per cent off the previous PCR testing price.
Tourists staying at a licensed hotel in Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors can schedule a PCR test to be conducted on property via concierge service.
Visitors staying in a private villa, guest house, or residence can book an in-person appointment at the closest Baywest or TSL laboratory location.
Travel agents can also book PCR testing on behalf of their clients in advance. (Click here for more details).
“The JTB has been working very hard to collaborate with the country’s accredited laboratories to facilitate more accessible and affordable testing for our Canadian visitors,” Bennett said on Monday. “We are very excited to bring this long-awaited enhanced service to the market and make travelling to Jamaica even more seamless for Canadians this winter.”
As for Irie Hour, some 250 other travel advisors will be tuning in to today’s (Oct. 26) session at 2:30 p.m. EST for a special broadcast filmed live from the Irie Hour FAM in Jamaica.
For details on Irie Hour, including upcoming events and how to watch, click here.
(All photos courtesy of the Jamaica Tourist Board)
Watch the JTB's official commercial for Irie Hour, produced by Pax Global Media, here!