By Matt Butler
We sell or we die
Below are two different means of selling a Jamaican holiday experience. Which is more valuable to most tourists? And is the value financial or sentimental, and which is more important to creating sustainable growth in coming years?
Pedro V egas – Manager at the Riu Hotel, Montego Bay
“Welcome to Jamaica! We at Riu Hotels are here to cater to you. We have two swimming pools just meters from the sea, just in case natural water is not to your liking. We have an American style breakfast for all the Americans travelling thousands of miles to Jamaica, with a touch of our cuisine in the corner of the room if you’re feeling adventurous. We knew you were coming, so we have cut most of the Jamaican beverages from our drinks menu in order to cater to your palette…because like we said, we cater to you.
We survive on the experience we sell tourists. We sell comfort, relaxation and tranquillity – all within the realms of what our clientele are due to expect. We can’t sell them a truly authentic Jamaica. No man! That would be too foreign for most of our guests. If we gave them real Jamaican culture it would make them uncomfortable. So much so that they may not come back. So we sell them a slightly more exotic version of what they already know, because in a country that survives on tourism, we sell or we die.”
Hopeton Campbell – founder of The Ital Experience
“Mornin’ bredrin! Y ou good? Thank you for choosing to be part of our immersive Jamaican vacation experience. As a smaller complex, the eight of you will have our undivided attention during the course of your stay. We have lots on offer from: teaching you to fish the crystal blue sea, where your catch can become your dinner, washed down with a refreshing jelly coconut from our tree while we relax on the beach; we can take a trip into the Blue mountains where we can pick raspberries, play in the snow and look out across the whole island as the sun sets; we can journey into downtown Kingston so you can dive foot-first into the dancehall night-life. The choices are completely yours – we’re here to give you a real Jamaican experience.
I came back to Jamaica over thirty years ago and loved it too much to leave. Now I want visitors to experience the charms that made me fall in love with it.”