JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says the Government is moving full speed ahead to upgrade the country’s tourism product.
  • He said that constantly upgrading and renewing properties, and raising the standards in hotels are sure ways of getting premium rates for the product.
  • Dr. McNeill pointed out that in the last year, expenditures on private sector tourism improvement projects were estimated at approximately $14 billion.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says the Government is moving full speed ahead to upgrade the country’s tourism product, and is encouraging private investors to follow suit with their properties.

He said that constantly upgrading and renewing properties, and raising the standards in hotels  are sure ways of getting premium rates for the product.

The Minister was addressing a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a water park, at the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort, in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, on June 12.

“Often in Jamaica we talk about investment and the only thing people think about is new rooms, and we have had new rooms. This is  good, but a lot of times we under-estimate the amount of work that takes place in the industry itself, in terms of just refurbishing and keeping it on the cutting edge,” he said.

Dr. McNeill pointed out that in the last year, expenditures on private sector tourism improvement projects were estimated at approximately $14 billion, which is proof of the improvements taking place within the sector year on year.

The Minister said that improvements will create more demand, which in turn will create more jobs.

Dr. McNeill pointed out that figures are showing that occupancy levels islandwide in all properties have increased, notwithstanding rate increases of between 10 and 13 per cent.

“It is really good to see that our investors are seeing the effects, they are seeing the increased occupancies, and they are seeing the increased rates. We want to continue on that trend, because we believe that Jamaica has the best anywhere in the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesperson on Tourism and Cruise Shipping, Shahine Robinson, congratulated the Sagicor Group for the strong faith in Jamaica through their investments, adding that the Opposition is 100 per cent behind the effort to quicken the pace for construction and development projects approval.

President and CEO, Sagicor Group Jamaica (owners of the hotel), Richard Byles, explained that the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort  water park is scheduled to be up and running in another nine months, and is estimated to cost $550 million.

He said the investment forms part of the group’s effort at upgrading its product, to be in a position to demand good rates.