Donnie Dawson Leaves a Legacy of Travel Advisor Advocacy

Donnie Dawson Leaves a Legacy of Travel Advisor Advocacy

Dawson, who last month retired as deputy director of the Jamaica Tourist Board
(JTB), was a travel advisor supporter years before pandemic-induced disruptions
led to a new appreciation for their services.

early appreciation for advisors’ hard work and expertise are his signature
legacies, according to the professionals with whom he’s teamed to build Jamaica’s
tourism industry.

worked with Jamaica’s national airline and most recently as the owner of a
travel agency for 11 years, Donnie’s style of leadership has always been
admired,” said Claire Robinson, owner of Clear Skies Travel. 

throughout his 40 years in Jamaica’s tourism industry, Dawson contended
with analysts’ predictions of advisors’ impending demise, with travelers purportedly
abandoning professional retailers for online booking platforms.

heard it again and again for 40 years,” Dawson said in a March JTB statement. “The
retailers are going to go out of business [because of] the OTAs.”

“They’re still here, man,” Dawson said. Even Expedia has a program for travel advisors,
he noted.

advisors are also at the core of the program with which Dawson is most
associated, the 12-year-old Jamaica Travel Specialist course, an agent
education module which has “grown beyond expectations,” according to JTB

program has produced tens of thousands of graduates, officials said, enabling JTB
to create a core database of Jamaica sellers. “That to me is probably one of my
crowning achievements that I would reflect on,” Dawson said.

surprisingly, Dawson’s extensive travel industry connections include advisors
whose cite him as a catalyst in their own achievement. “The
foresight Donnie had in championing the significance of traditional travel
advisors to tourism in Jamaica has had an enormous impact on my personal
success,” said Lindsey Johnson, owner of Tropics Travel LLC. 

has also directly influenced “the success of countless other travel advisors
and agencies,” Johnson said.

leadership was most notably on display during the pandemic, during which “he provided
such a positive atmosphere and reassurance to all segments of the industry,” said
Robinson. “It
was easy to see that though the road ahead was temporarily rocky, there would
be clear skies ahead.”

four decades as a Jamaica tourism official paralleled the growth of the island’s
accommodations sector as room capacity tripled to more than 30,000.

the same time, he directed efforts to increase Jamaica’s air connectivity (becoming
known among colleagues as “Mr. Airlift” in the process).

is deeply indebted to Donnie Dawson for his decades of service to develop and
promote tourism to the island,” said Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism.

has been a steadfast ambassador throughout the years, dedicated to helping
Jamaica become one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. We are truly grateful to him for everything he has accomplished and
wish him a very happy retirement.”

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