KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 10, 2020- Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, says developers remain invested in the country’s tourism infrastructure, despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Minister Bartlett, who was addressing the virtual media briefing for Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) 2020 on November 9, cited several projects that are on stream, including the construction and expansion of high-end properties.
Among the projects is the 1,700-room Hard Rock Resort along the Elegant Corridor in Rose Hall, Montego Bay.
“I am hopeful that plans… will be laid out and construction will begin soon,” he said.
Also in Montego Bay, an additional 800 rooms are being added to the beachfront all-inclusive SeaGarden Beach Resort, which is located near the Hip Strip.
In addition, the Shoppes of Rose Hall is being repurposed and rebranded into a Linkages Centre of Excellence to provide visitors with a place that showcases the best of Jamaica.
“We’ve just broken ground on this development to signal the major transformation it will undergo. The new Linkages Centre of Excellence will draw people out into the community, experiencing a destination within the destination that combines gastronomy, a craft market offering the best of our Jamaican crafts, health and wellness, local entertainment, and the use of the latest technology,” Mr. Bartlett said.
Meanwhile, over in Trelawny, Ocean by H10 is building a 440-room property and the Royalton Group is constructing two more resorts totalling 1,200 rooms, adding to the White Sands and Blue Waters resorts.
The Tourism Minister noted that over in St. Ann, the Karisma Hotels & Resorts group is undertaking phase one of the Sugarcane property with 700 rooms.
“Phase two will add another 3,800, bringing the total room count to 4,500. This represents a significant investment, which could potentially create 10,000 jobs,” he said.
Bartlett, says that most of the major airlines serving Jamaica are increasing service as the demand picks up. These, he said, include American Airlines, Delta, jetBlue, United, Southwest, Air Canada, WestJet, and Copa.
“In the United Kingdom (UK), British Airways started twice weekly service to Montego Bay from London Gatwick, adding to its regular London Gatwick-Kingston service,” he informed.
In addition, he noted that Virgin Atlantic returned to Jamaica last month, with service from Heathrow to Montego Bay twice weekly, and will move to three days per week this winter.
The Minister was addressing the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) 2020 virtual media briefing held on November 9.
He said that Expedia reported that searches for Montego Bay, Jamaica, rose 15 per cent in July, and Jamaica was among the most-searched-for destinations in the Caribbean.
“We are very optimistic these trends will continue through the winter months,” he noted.
He said some hotels in Jamaica were reporting between 60-90% occupancy through a combination of local and international guests and this is fuelling optimism for a healthy 2020 winter tourism season.
Noting that the hoteliers have reported “numbers reaching nearly 90% around holiday weekends”, Minister Bartlett said that “several hotels are redefining the meaning of luxury to accommodate more private experiences. These include Eclipse at Half Moon, a major new luxury property at the resort that provides the luxury of space, privacy and peace of mind with meticulous health and safety protocols.”
The Minister also pointed to renovation underway at the former Oceana Hotel in Kingston to be rebranded ROK-Kingston – a 168 room property overlooking Kingston’s waterfront, to be managed by Hilton Hotels through its Tapestry Collection trademark.
“It will be part of a multipurpose complex including retail, onsite entertainment and commercial office space”, the Minister explained.
Noting other developments at Chukka Cove in Ocho Rios, the additional expansion of high-end hotels along the Elegant Corridor in Montego Bay and other planned development expansion in Trelawny and St. Ann, Minister Bartlett said “we have been working tirelessly and efficiently to provide a Jamaica that is safe and enjoyable to all, in recovery and beyond.”
Meanwhile, noting that “Jamaica is a destination that always seeks to punch above its weight, Nicola Madden Greig, Chair, JAPEX Organizing Committee and Past President of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) said that despite COVID-19 Jamaica is not only poised “to regain market share and survive but also, to thrive.”
She said that “2020 was the most difficult and challenging year ever for tourism and the world, forcing us to reimagine JAPEX and present for the first time ever, a totally virtual experience.”
Pointing to the record attendance this year of over 2000 participants including tour operators, travel agents, local supplier companies and media delegates, Mrs. Madden Greig said the participation proved the continued strength of brand Jamaica with international partners from a range of countries including: USA, Canada, Spain, Russia, China, India, Australia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Mexico and the UK.