Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

Small country – big names, big celebrities

When we hear the name Jamaica, the reggae music, fun, tropical landscapes, world-famous athletes and musicians come to our mind. Having the opportunity to spend a week in this beautiful Caribbean country and get up close and personal and see how the people live here, and take part in a trade fair with professionals and see how the country's tourism and the tourism industry is working, we spent wonderful days with some of the nicest people in the world, in the company of whom the difficulties of life were made easier.

“We likkle but we tallawah…”

The above sentence is a quote from the welcome address of Jamaica’s largest tourism exhibition and trade fair, JAPEX 2023. and means “We are small but our impact is greater.” The Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) officially held its latest tourism exhibition and trade fair in Montego Bay this September 11-13 September, which is significant because it was the first time it had been held again since 2019.

The venue for the event is the Montego Bay Convention Centre, a ten-time winner of the World Travel Awards as the Caribbean’s leading events and conference centre and which, with its oceanfront location and panoramic views, is one of the the region’s finest meeting and convention facilities in an area of approximately 139,302 square metres of meeting, exhibition and ballroom space. JAPEX 2023 is the most important event in Jamaica’s tourism calendar. The carefully designed platforms included networking sessions, working lunches and seminars, creating opportunities to network with potential partners and close deals.

The event attracted more than 25 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, India, Italy, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Mexico, Spain, United States, Uruguay, India, Italy and the United Kingdom. More than 235 delegates attended the event including airlines, hoteliers, tour operators and other industry companies and professionals.

Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

I would like to tell you how happy I am to be back with you after more than two years being apart,” remarked Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett on the eve of the opening reception at the CHUKKA Ocean Outpost in Sandy Bay. “Jamaica today is a tourist destination  that boasts a tourism boom that is the strongest in the entire English-speaking Caribbean of the 4.1billion revenue target, Jamaica can claim its best year ever in terms of visitor numbers. As it stands now, we are on track to close out the best year in the history of Jamaica’s tourism industry, 2023 in terms of arrivals”, the minister said.

In the title quote, Jamaica says it is small, but a beautiful Caribbean island nation with a total area of some 10,990 square kilometers, Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean, after Cuba and Hispaniola (shared with the Dominican Republic and Haiti). Its temperature is always warm, and in winter it is 25 °C and around 31 °C in summer. What we have experienced during the rainy season in summer is the extraordinary humidity. During the rainy season, which lasts from May to October, there are frequent heavy rains, which not only tropical vegetation, but also the fabulous waterfalls – more on these later. What everyone wants to know about are hurricanes and, yes, they can sometimes happen here in the Caribbean, typically in June and November. However, in places like the Blue Mountains, which are Jamaica’s highest point, we experience cooler temperatures.


The known and the less known history

There is much about Jamaica’s history that is not well known, such as the fact that before the arrival of Europeans Jamaica was inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taino peoples, who also conquered the Greater Antilles for centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived on his second voyage to the Americas in 1494. Columbus had claimed Jamaica for Spain and the island had been a fortress of Spanish rule since 1494 and remained under Spanish rule for nearly 150 years. During this time, the indigenous population was ravaged by violence, disease and forced labor. Sugar production and cattle breeding became the main industries. During the ensuing British colonization in 1655, the English led by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables conquered Jamaica from the Spanish. Jamaica was a British colony those times.

The abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in the early 19th century, followed by the abolition of slavery in 1834, had a profound impact on Jamaica. Jamaica went through various political and social changes after emancipation. The island’s economy was shifted from sugar to other crops such as bananas and coffee, resulting in a diversified agricultural sector. The island continued to be controlled by the British until Jamaica gained control in 1944 and then full independence in 1962. Following independence, Jamaica became a parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth. Political stability has experienced several periods of turmoil, under the leadership of figures such as Michael Manley and Edward Seaga.

Photo: Szilvia Szeszler


Negril is not just a town, but rather a region known for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. There are several international airports to Jamaica, and we arrived in Montego Bay in the north-west of the island which is Jamaica’s second largest city and provides convenient access to the popular holiday destinations such as Montego Bay itself, Negril and Ocho Rios. We started with Negril, a popular destination for travellers seeking sun, sea and Jamaica’s vibrant culture. As well as being featured in Ian Fleming’s 1965 novel „The Man With The Golden Gun” and being one of the most popular destinations for tourists,

Negril is also a popular destination for travellers and celebrities from all over the world with its many natural attractions, such as:

– The Seven Miles Beach – Negril is famous for the stunning Seven Miles Beach, which, as the name suggests, stretches for some 7 miles uninterrupted along the coast, offering powder white sand and turquoise waters. One of the longest continuous stretches of beach in Jamaica, it is a great place for sunbathing, swimming, diving and water sports.

– Reggae music – Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae music and Negril is no exception. Various bars   and restaurants in the area often host live reggae performances, which are enjoyed by crowds of visitors.

– Cliff jumping – Negril is also famous for its dramatic cliffs along the coastline, where the local brave young men jump down from the rocks into the deep water below.

– One of these iconic spots is at the western end of the island, where the bravest of the brave take heart-stopping cliff jumps from the top of a 35-foot cliff, the famous Rick’s Cafe, founded in 1974 by Richard Hershman when Negril was still a sleepy fishing village. Considered by many to be Jamaica’s best bar, the venue offers jumps from several heights, so visitors can jump from lower cliffs or enjoy the jumps while sampling the finest local food and cocktails alongside a continuous live local music and dance show. The site is also one of the famous sunset spots, which is why many people visit.

– The laid-back atmosphere – locals are relaxed, laid-back, not worried and not feeling under pressure. They enjoy life, handle difficulties with ease and don’t push themselves unnecessarily – this is the attitude here. This is a great place for those who want to relax and find peace and quiet. It’s all here in Negril.

– Resorts and hotels – Negril has a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget hotels, making it accessible to a wide range of travellers.

Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

Where James Bond was born

Jamaica has a famous native, even if imaginary, but world famous nonetheless. Ian Fleming was living in Jamaica when he wrote most of the James Bond novels. In fact, he created most of the James Bond series in his Jamaican home, known as ‘Goldeneye’. Goldeneye is in Oracabessa, on the northern coast of Jamaica. Fleming bought the property in 1946 and it was his primary residence at the time of writing the Bond novels. Jamaica’s tropical and exotic environment was a major influence on these books, and the country’s natural beauty, culture and Caribbean charm are reflected in some of the locations and scenes depicted iby Fleming, making the island an integral part of the Bond literary legacy.

Ian Fleming introduced James Bond in his first novel, „Casino Royale”, published in 1953. Bond, code number 007, appeared in a total of 14 novels and two short story collections, and a hugely successful film series that began in 1962 with “Dr. No” starring Sean Connery. Since then, 007 has become one of the most iconic and enduring figures in both literature and cinema. Over the years Bond has been portrayed in films by a number of actors and various authors have continued to write Bond novels after Fleming’s death in 1964. The James Bond legend is inseparable from Jamaica, where he was born.


What is Jamaica famous for?

Jamaica is known for its significant contribution to global culture through music and sport. Jamaica is known for reggae music, among other things, which has become popular worldwide through artists such as Bob Marley. The island’s cultural heritage is a blend of African, European and indigenous influences, creating a unique and vibrant society. Some of the world’s most talented athletes are also Jamaican-born. With its fabulous tropical landscapes, tourism has become a major industry there, attracting visitors from all over the world with its beautiful beaches, lush landscapes and cultural attractions.


Celebrities of Jamaica  

Jamaica is extremely well known and popular worldwide, although if you look at the map it is just a small dot with a population is only 3 million. So let’s take a look at how this tiny Caribbean country is the birthplace of famous personalities who have had distinguished careers and contributed to raising the standard in various artistic, sporting and public spheres. Here are some of the notable celebrities of Jamaican descent:

Bob Marley, reggae music icon and global superstar, his music and message continues to have a profound impact on the world.

Usain Bolt – Considered the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt is a multiple Olympic gold medalist and world sprint record holder.

Marcus Garvey – Marcus Garvey is a prominent civil rights leader and advocate of pan-Africanism who founded the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Kingston, a historical and cultural organisation dedicated to improving the lot of people of African descent.

Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) – the beloved Jamaican folklorist, poet and actress known for her work in promoting Jamaican patois and culture. We met her as the lovable tribal leader in the comedy film “Treasure That Is Not”.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Jamaican sprinter and Olympic gold medallist, known for her success in the 100m and 200m sprint events.

Jimmy Cliff – a legend of reggae and ska music, known for hits such as “The Harder They Come” and

“You can get it if you really want” and who contributed to the development of reggae music.

Grace Jones – iconic singer, model and actress known for her distinctive style and music, including

hits such as “Slave to the Rhythm”.

Orville Richard Burrell, better known as Shaggy – musician, singer, DJ and actor.

Portia Simpson-Miller – Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller served several terms and was a prominent figure in Jamaican politics.

Michael Manley – Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Manley was a key figure in the country’s political history and was known for his progressive policies.

Veronica Campbell-Brown – successful Jamaican sprinter who won several Olympic and world championship medals.

Merlene Ottey – an athlete who represented Jamaica at several Olympics and World Championships and who is known for her success in the sprint events.

These are just a few of the many famous Jamaicans who have made their mark on the world in various fields. Jamaica’s cultural, athletic and political contributions have had a global impact and continue to be celebrated and loved internationally.


“Wah Gwaan?” and “Ya’ Man”

There are certain phrases, expressions, greetings and salutations that are part of the Jamaican way of life. One of these is “Wah Gwaan?”, which means “How are you?”. It is a friendly and informal way to start a conversation and is often used in social interactions between friends, acquaintances or simply to be nice. After all, it is unthinkable to pass each other in Jamaica without greeting each other and saying a few kind words. It is so heart-warming and so typical of the warm-heartedness of the locals.

Another such expression that is very often heard is “Ya’Man”, which means yes, of course. It usually expresses a positive response or approval, and that someone agrees with what is being said or asked of them. You will hear this dozens of times a day as it is part of the Jamaican cultural and linguistic tradition. The use of the word “man” is also quite common in Jamaican Patois (Jamaican Creole), which is the island’s own linguistic variety. The term “Ya’Man” reflects a friendly and relaxed style that characterizes local communication and attitudes.


  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

  • Photo: Szilvia Szeszler

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