The Government, the opposition Jamaica Labour party and key players in the local tourism sector are hopeful that this years' staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange Tourism Trade Show will be able to create a resurgence in business for the sector.
Japex is Jamaica's premier annual Tourism Trade Show, which brings local players in the industry face to face with overseas travel agent and tour operators interested in doing business with Jamaica.
This year’s show, which is being held in Ocho Rios, comes against the background of four consecutive months of decline in business, and is been seen as very crucial for the recovery of the ailing industry.
Figures from the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association points to a 0.7% decline in stop over arrivals for January, 4% decline in February and March and indications are that April also suffered a decline in business.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller who officially opened Japex 07 at the Sunset Jamaica Grand in Ocho Rios on Sunday night said Tourism and Sports Facilities in Jamaica have never been any better and that the country now stands ready to gain from the vast improvement in infrastructure.
Mrs. Simpson-Miller is confident that Japex will continue the strong tradition of strengthening the relationship Jamaica enjoys with tour operators, travel agents and other travel partners including the travel and life style media. In expressing her optimism the Prime Minister said, "I trust that activities on the trading floor will satisfy all parties."
And President of the JHTA Horace Peterkin is also hopeful that Japex will be able to turn around the misfortunes of Jamaica's Tourist Industry.
"We are making sure this year that we really do some good business with the tour operators and we believe that base on the initial response so far we will be able to turn around the business. I am counting on that," Peterkin assured.
For his part Chairman of Superclubs Resort John Issa is urging the Government to get back into the tourism marketplace and aggressively promote the island.
Speaking at a press briefing at Rooms on the Beach in Ocho Rios today Mr. Issa said, " the quickest way is for funds to be pumped into direct advertising for the island and also one or two large promotional events that will get wide publicity."
However opposition spokesman on Tourism Ed Bartlett said it would require far more than Japex to put the Tourist Industry back on a growth path.
While hoping that Japex will indeed generate enough business that will be able to reverse the decline in trend, he made it clear that there need to be increased marketing activity especially in Europe, Asia and South America.
"Marketing activities in Canada have to really step up too and Canada has been showing some positive in the last few months and part of this is flowing from the Spanish Activity," Mr. Bartlett said.