As part of a new push into the Caribbean, Pleasant Holidays is
making its first foray into Jamaica, offering packages with
Sandals, Ritz Carlton and other well-known resorts.
“Jamaica will be a major focus,” said Pleasant Holidays
President and CEO Tim Irwin.
Best known for developing excursions to Hawaii and the South
Pacific, Pleasant, one of the largest West Coast tour operators, is
expected to provide a badly needed infusion of West Coast travelers
“This is a bonanza for Jamaica,” said Donnie Dawson, West Coast
regional manager for the Jamaica Tourist Board. “We’ve been trying
to develop the West Coast for many years.”
By involving Pleasant’s established base of travel agents, who
may not have been booking Jamaica, Dawson expects Pleasant to
increase total traffic to the island.
“I don’t think it will steal existing business, I think it will
bring in new business,” Dawson said. “We’re dealing with a whole
different group of travel agents who we haven’t reached in the
While several West Coast tour operators book Jamaica, the West
provides a relatively small number of Jamaica tourists.
In 2000, only about 7% of Jamaica’s 942,500 U.S. visitors came
from the West Coast. From January to July this year, 40,000
tourists traveled from the West Coast to Jamaica, down about 9%
Pleasant’s marketing muscle should boost that number. Air
Jamaica’s plans to double the number of nonstop flights from Los
Angeles to Montego Bay next spring should also help.
The Tourist Board emphasized that Jamaica is almost equal
distance from the West Coast as is Hawaii.
“That’s a strong message,” Dawson said. “I think in 2003, if all
things remain equal, [traffic from] the West will really
Pleasant is already booking trips to the Caribbean for travel
starting in January 2003. In Jamaica, Pleasant is working with such
established properties as Half Moon Golf, Tennis & Beach Club,
the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, Grand Lido Negril, Renaissance Jamaica
Grande Resort and the adults-only Hedonism III. In addition to
opening a new territory, for Pleasant the move into Jamaica also
marks its first aggressive partnerships with all-inclusive resorts.
Except for a scattering of properties, Pleasant traditionally
avoided all-inclusive properties.
But upscale, all-inclusive resorts, particularly the Sandals and
Beaches chains, have a well-established reputation within the
industry, Irwin said.
“I’ve personally been down there and experienced the product,”
Irwin says. “And I must say that Sandals really does treat you like
a guest in their house.”
Among other amenities, Sandals allows guests access to their
other properties, which is a particularly popular perk in Jamaica,
“Most people stay on the property and only go off on
activities,” Irwin said. “They tend not to rent cars.”
Pleasant is working with more than 70 properties in the
Caribbean, including hotels on Aruba, Grand Cayman, St. Lucia,
Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
“We realized that if we are going to grow and be relevant to our
retail partners, then we have to expand our product offerings,”
Pleasant has struck deals with the Jamaica Tourist Board and
other regional agencies for co-op advertising.
“We’ve been welcomed very nicely in the Caribbean,” Irwin said.
“The travel boards and hoteliers are really interested in expanding
their reach on the West Coast.”