In 2012, the world’s attention will be on Jamaica with the concurrence of three significant happenings: the country will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence; its athletes, some the world’s fastest runners, will be showcased in the upcoming Summer Olympics and Jamaica tourism will reach out to the Jamaican diaspora inviting them to “come home” to visit. Recently, Multicultural Travel News attended the 21st Annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) convention and had the opportunity to interview the Jamaican Tourist Board’s (JTB) Director of Tourism, John Lynch, to learn more about these upcoming events and initiatives.

As a result of the Jamaican Diaspora, there is currently a large population of Jamaicans living in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.  According to John Lynch, 50% of Jamaicans live in Jamaica while the other 50% are living elsewhere in the world. With third and fourth generation Jamaicans living abroad who have never visited the place of their heritage, JTB will be reaching out to Jamaicans abroad and inviting them to “come home for a visit” in 2012. “Heritage” themed vacation suggestions that focus on learning and experiencing Jamaican tradition and culture already exist through JTB.

In addition to its cultural contributions, Jamaica boasts a proud athletic legacy. Since the island first began competing in the Olympic Games in 1948, their athletes have won 53 medals.  John Lynch stated that in the upcoming Summer 2012 Olympics, Jamaica will be sending nine people running in under ten seconds in the 100 meter race, bringing further attention to Jamaica.

Jamaica will celebrate fifty years of independence in 2012.  Describing the nation as a “confluence of cultures,” John Lynch shared the island’s apt motto, “out of many, one people.”  He pointed to visitjamaica.com where there is a comprehensive list of all festivals and a further description of the people of Jamaica’s ancestry which can be traced back to Spain, England, Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East and those indigenous to the island.  These diverse cultural influences can be seen in its unique music, dance, art, architecture and food. Mr. Lynch mentioned two of Jamaica’s iconic festivals, the Reggae Sumfest in July and the Jazz and Blues Festival every January, as exemplifying the unique culture the country offers.

With so much to celebrate in the upcoming 2012, the JTB encourages its fellow Jamaicans to come home. For more information, visit the Jamaican Tourist Board’s website, visitjamaica.com.  

By: Lisa Skriloff and Colleen Ring

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