If someone asks you to list five countries in the Caribbean, Jamaica is likely to make the list. And if you heard someone with a Caribbean accent and was asked to guess their nationality, once again, Jamaica might very well be your first guess.
While it is often difficult for foreigners to pinpoint any distinctive cultural characteristics of other Caribbean countries, almost anyone remembers Rastafarians and reggae music from Jamaica. Naming celebrities is easy too: from Bob Marley to Usain Bolt.
To affirm this popularity, TripAdvisor recently named Jamaica the third best island in the world to visit, and the best island in the Caribbean – and this isn’t the first time the island received such an honor.
How did Jamaica achieve such praise, when it is surrounded by so many other beautiful islands who also rely heavily on tourism?
Playing into Stereotypes
Many countries do everything possible to remove many of the stereotypes associated with their culture. For the most part, Jamaica does not. From government ads published by the Jamaica Tourist Board to people working in tourism on the island, Jamaica plays into the stereotypes to give tourists what they came to experience first hand.
It is common for nationals to flaunt the exotic dialect to amuse tourists, though the country’s national language is English. It’s also common to see Rastafarians in ads made by the government and local hotels. Rastafarianism is a subculture in Jamaica, much like hippies in the United States.
The island’s commitment to giving tourists what they want and showing them what they want to see illustrates a customer-focused approach to PR helping many brands stay ahead.
Partnering with Other Brands
Countries and states often push only an authentic experience to tourists, but Jamaica takes a slightly different approach. Several of the biggest and best hotels in Jamaica are owned by the Spanish and a few by Canadians and Americans. In doing so, Jamaica allows other countries to fill needs it may not have resources to supply.
So, when visitors come to Jamaica, not only do they get an authentic Jamaican experience. They also learn about other foods and cultures, based on the nationality behind successful hotels on the island like Riu, Iberostar, and Grand Palladium. Through them, visitors can enjoy an authentic Mediterranean experience without ever setting foot in Italy or Greece.
Partnering with other brands helps Jamaica to diversity its offerings while gaining many honorable mentions around the world from their partners. Through diversification, Jamaica taps into other markets and niches it would not otherwise be able to access.
Supporting Other Strengths
The vast majority of Jamaica’s economy is fed by tourism. However, the government also pours a lot of its resources into ensuring that sports receive adequate exposure as well. For instance, many foreigners know Usain Bolt as the fastest man in the world. He is Jamaican. Prior to him, Asafa Powell, another Jamaican held the title.
Jamaica capitalizes on this by ensuring athletes receive a lot of exposure on the air, and in newspapers. To further support the industry, Jamaica made Usain Bolt the youngest Ambassador in its history by titling him the Honourable Usain Bolt, in 2009 also granting him diplomatic status.
Perhaps more than anything else, the Olympics has successfully painted Jamaica and its people in a positive light, prompting many to keep visiting in spite of high poverty and crime rates. The island successfully blots out the noise of bad PR, by pushing headline after headline of its success in other areas..
The main lesson Jamaica teaches in PR is what it cannot achieve on its own, it can enlist assistance from others. And that whatever it can achieve as a government is increased through the help of its people sharing a common goal from corporate heights to the grassroots level.
It also shows the benefits of ‘owning’ and being associated with iconic Jamaicans and their kids; like Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, Kerry Washington, Alicia Keys, Naomi Campbell, and even Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy.