By Devin Kinasz
MONTEGO BAY — Jamaica showcased new tourism industry infrastructure while the island was on display for the CHTA Marketplace 2014 here. This is the fifth time Jamaica has hosted the event with international suppliers, buyers and media in attendance.
The tourism industry in Jamaica continues to be a leading industry, employing about one in four people on the island and being a major source of foreign currency. In December of 2013, Jamaica celebrated a new milestone. For the first time, Jamaica welcomed more than two million stopover visitors, earning an estimated US$2 billion.
“This outstanding performance did not occur by accident,” says the Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica. “It was achieved through hard work and investment made by the public and private sectors over a period of time.”
The government has put effort and funds into some major projects to support the tourism industry including:
- The new North-South highway that will cut the drive time from Kingston to Ocho Rios and help open up the South Coast to tourism as well as Port Antonio. It is expected to be complete in the beginning of 2016.
- Redevelopment of Ocho Rios is currently underway and will see upgrades to the cruise ship terminal, pedestrian areas, promenade by the marina and the Main Street.
- Passenger processing at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay has been improved and it has been named the Caribbean’s Leading Airport by the World Travel Awards for the fifth year in a row.
- Airlift has increased from Jamaica’s traditional North American markets, plus new and diversified airlift has been added from non-traditional markets with carriers such as Copa and Transaero.
- The deliberate strategy of easing visa restriction from key target markets such as Russia, as well as other countries in Eastern European and Latin American has increased.
“As a country we have good reason to be optimistic about the continued growth of our tourism industry […] and we are currently running 4.3% above last year’s performance year to date,” says the Honourable Dr. Wykeham McNeil, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment. “All this comes against the background of a resurgence in local and foreign investment in the industry. In the past year we have seen substantial investment in the hotel sector, with the transition of ownership, expansions and new hotels under construction.”
This island continues to attract some of the world’s most well-known hotel brands to take advantage of the beautiful beaches and well developed tourism infrastructure. Some of the other new hotel and property developments on the island include:
- The new ‘Adults Only’ Riu Palace Jamaica is the brand’s fifth property in Jamaica and opened with 238 rooms in December of 2013. The property is right next door to the Riu Montego Bay in beautiful Mahoe Bay.
- Karisma Hotel & Resorts opened its very first resort in Jamaica with the Azul Sensatori Hotel on the famous 7 Mile Beach in Negril with 136 rooms.
- Local investment continues by Sagicor in the expansion of its Jewel Resorts with the new Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa in Runaway Bay – an adults-only property with 225 ‘reimagined’ rooms.
- The Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall will open in Montego Bay in 2014, a property that was previously the Ritz-Carlton.
- The Meliá Jamaica hotel, formerly the Braco Village Hotel & Spa, will reopen in late 2014 with 226 rooms in the colonial-style buildings.
- The Courtyard by Marriott has just broken ground in Kingston and is expected to open in 2015 with 130 rooms.
- Furthermore, Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts, a subsidiary of Sunwing Travel Group, just opened the Royalton White Sands in Falmouth, about half an hour from Montego Bay. The modern property included added features such as the Dreambed designed exclusively for Royalton Resorts and the unique ‘All-In Connectivity’ that includes free WiFi throughout the resort, unlimited in-room calling to North America and most of Europe, as well as USB recharge and Bluetooth audio stations in the room. Guests can also download the Royalton App with more features. The property also boasts a full on-site waterpark, The Royal Spa with hydrotherapy circuit, plus several bars and restaurants. For more information, visit royaltonresorts.com or visitjamaica.com.
See the photos from CHTA Jamaica event here.