Tourism Interest Optimistic About Future of the Industry

Story Highlights

  • Local tourism interests say they are comfortable that Jamaica has nothing to fear from the opening up of Cuba, adding that the country is poised to becoming the number one destination in the entire Caribbean.
  • They note that Jamaica has been gaining so much traction in recent times by way of direct foreign investment, that it is very difficult to see the country losing much, if any of its market share to anyone anytime soon.
  • Businessman and former owner of Dolphin Cove, Stafford Burrowes a swimming with the dolphins facility with locations in Ocho Rios and Sandy Bay, Hanover said Jamaica’s tourism is undergoing a new kind of renaissance, where the country is poised to becoming a first choice destination.

Local tourism interests say they are comfortable that Jamaica has nothing to fear from the opening up of Cuba, adding that the country is poised to becoming the number one destination in the entire Caribbean.

They note that Jamaica has been gaining so much traction in recent times by way of direct foreign investment, that it is very difficult to see the country losing much, if any of its market share to anyone anytime soon.

Businessman and former owner of Dolphin Cove, Stafford Burrowes a swimming with the dolphins facility with locations in Ocho Rios and Sandy Bay, Hanover said Jamaica’s tourism is undergoing a new kind of renaissance, where the country is poised to becoming a first choice destination.

“It is by no coincidence that the country is seeing this new wave of tourism investment.  Even with Cuba opening up and all things being equal, Jamaica could conceivably grab the lion’s share of the tourism market in the region,” he told JIS in an interview.

Gibran Chapur, Executive Vice President of Palace Resorts, the largest hotel chain in Mexico and also the owners of the newly acquired Moon Palace Jamaica Grande Hotel, Ocho Rios, agreed.

“There are very good things happening in Jamaica where visitor arrivals will soar even higher. Major infrastructure works such as the road that will connect Kingston to Ocho Rios and also the fact that so many new hotel rooms are coming on stream will give Jamaica that competitive edge,” he told JIS News.

For her part, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) President Nicola Madden Grieg believes that, there is real opportunity for a strategic tourism alliance between the two nations.

She noted that the time is now ripe to explore a twin marketing strategy for both countries, which could provide useful synergies and showcase the western Caribbean region as one of the world’s premiere tourism destinations –a first choice for travelers.

“Not only are we in close proximity to Cuba, but we both have a lot of things where we can feed off each other. One is a Spanish speaking country and the other is an English speaking country and we both have a rich heritage and also share an excellent relationship with each other,” Ms Madden Grieg said.

She added that there are other tourism opportunities in both cruise shipping and land based visitors, not just with Cuba, but also Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Central America.

“Just like they do tourism in the Mediterranean, we can create our own linkages here in the western Caribbean and where Jamaica stands to gain big time,” she further noted.

President Barrack Obama announced last year that the United States intended to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. A key element of the diplomatic re-engagement between the United States and Cuba is the mutual re-establishment Embassies and resumed appointment Ambassadors, as agreed on by President Obama, and his counterpart, Raul Castro.

For his part, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr. the Hon Wykeham McNeill is encouraging regional and local players to embrace Cuba as a partner rather than as a threat.

“From day one I have been encouraging the local tourism sector not to panic and should view the opening up of Cuba as something that could benefit Jamaica as well,” the Minister said.”

“It is a known fact that Jamaica has been competing successfully with Cuba in traditional markets such as Canada, Great Britain, Latin America and Europe –even before the new US policy was announced.  And as I have been saying, what we have to do is to up our game. Our Brand Jamaica is a premiere brand and is something we have a lot of confidence in. We know we can successfully compete with anybody and within any market on the globe,” he added.

He noted that US travelers going to Cuba could also want to make Jamaica a part of their itinerary, and that the proximity of the two nations –only 90miles apart- create the opportunity for joint ventures and linkages.

Former Prime Minister the Most Hon P.J. Patterson is also of the view that Cuba should be embraced as a tourism partner, and that Jamaica was poised to benefit greatly.

Mr. Patterson told participants at the third CARICOM-EU Business Forum in Montego Bay, in April that the fear that the opening up of Cuba will negatively impact on Jamaica has been greatly exaggerated.

“Instead of people spending their time worrying about how the advent of tourist arrivals in Cuba is going to affect the Caribbean, let’s spend our time in seeing how, out of that alliance, the entire region is going to benefit by the creation of multiple destination and multicultural experience,” Mr. Patterson said.

Jamaica in 2014 welcomed over 2 million stopover or land based visitors. In addition the island also welcomed 1.26 million cruise ship passengers. The combined figure represents a 3.1 per cent increase over 2014 for the January to June period.

 

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