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  • Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says ground will be broken this year for the construction of some 1,600 new rooms in the local tourism sector.
  • The Minister said construction of those rooms is an indication that investments in the tourism sector have returned in a big way.
  • He added that while the room stock continues to grow and improve, attention is also being paid to the attractions, the cultural and heritage sites, the welfare of tourism workers and the Jamaican people, who play a key role in maintaining the interest of visitors.

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says ground will be broken this year for the construction of some 1,600 new rooms in the local tourism sector.

The Minister said construction of those rooms is an indication that investments in the tourism sector have returned in a big way.

Declaring open the 2015 Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) on September 20, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James,  Dr. McNeill said apart from doing well, the sector continues to grow with the country breaking the two million mark in tourist arrivals two years ago.

“The tourism sector is doing extremely well and continues to grow every year. That’s  a tremendous achievement when you consider that in the Caribbean, only four countries are at that level and Jamaica is one of them,” the Minister said.

Dr. McNeill also highlighted the performance of the island’s cruise shipping sector over the years, stating that Jamaica has been welcoming approximately 3.5 million visitors per year.

He  pointed out that Jamaica’s performance in the tourism sector can be attributed to positive showing in all the source markets, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, with additional markets being opened every year.

 

“Already this year, we went into the Nordic market in a big way. We have gotten our direct flights out of Norway and Sweden and next year, for the first time, we are going into a new gateway…to have direct flights from Dublin (Ireland) to Montego Bay,” the Minister said.

Dr. McNeill noted that the demand for destination Jamaica as an investment area continues to grow and while a number of resorts across the island are being refurbished in an effort to improve the product, efforts continue to ensure that destination Jamaica reaches and remains the most attractive location for investments.

“Our local partners,  Sagicor, has invested in a new property;  Sandals is doing a series of renovations on its rooms; and new properties are coming on stream. What is happening is that Jamaica is evolving. We are seeing investments in the product,” the  Minister  said.

He added that while the room stock continues to grow and improve, attention is also being paid to the attractions, the cultural and heritage sites, the  welfare of tourism workers and the Jamaican people, who play a key role in maintaining the interest of visitors.

Dr. McNeill said everything must be done to protect and preserve the nation’s tourism sector, which is a catalyst for economic growth.

“Our tourism sector is leading the economic renaissance  in Jamaica. What we have to do is look at tourism as a tool of social and economic development. It is a tool that allows the reach of tourism to get to every nook and cranny of Jamaica,” the Minister said.

JAPEX, an annual event, is hosted by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). It offers the ideal forum for leading suppliers of the country’s tourism product to meet with travel wholesalers and tour operators in a professionally-organised business exchange.

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