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Prime Minister Bruce Golding says the  new Convention Centre in the island’s tourism capital,  will not only  enable Jamaica to claim a piece of the estimated US$280 billion worldwide conventions and exhibitions market, but will provide an opportunity for hotels in and around  the area to become partners with the government.

Officially declaring the new Montego Bay convention centre open on (Jan 7) – Prime Minister Bruce Golding cuts the ribbon (2nd l). Sharing in the ceremony are –L-R Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Chen Jinghua, PM Golding, UDC’s General Manager, Miss Joy Douglas, Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett and Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang. Partly hidden is Opposition Spokesman for Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeil.

‘Within eyesight of this centre there are almost 2,300 hotel rooms and within no more than a 3 or 4-mile radius, there is an additional 2500 rooms so we are looking at almost 5,000 rooms  that are within 5 minutes driving distance of the convention. Those are the rooms that we have to support the convention activities. So in marketing conventions, hotels must become partners in that exercise in terms of how we can synchronize the marketing of the convention facilities with the rooms that are to be made available’. Mr Golding told the opening of the Montego Bay convention Centre yesterday (Jan 7) that it is going to require strong aggressive marketing.

He also disclosed that government had just approved a 7-year contract valued at US $2.4M with a US based firm of convention marketing experts and will be relying on them to keep the convention participants coming on a regular basis. He also expects the centre to be used significantly by local businesses and organisations as it puts them in a position where they can offer to hosts conventions for their organisations.

Tourism Minister in his address, noted that Jamaica was previously limited as a destination to attract players in the very lucrative meetings and conference sector. Over 400,000   conventions and exhibitions are organised each year bringing together a pool of some US$280Billion. ‘With this convention centre Jamaica will have a chance to enter into this lucrative market and to broaden significantly  the scope and scale of  our offerings to enable us to significantly grow the tourism spend which is so important. My commitment has been to increase arrivals and to increase revenue and this facility will allow us to do that’, Minister Bartlett said.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding (3rd R) is taken on a tour of the Centre after he officially declared it opened yesterday (Jan 7). Other government Ministers pictured are Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett (r), Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang (l). Photo also shows Chairman of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Wayne Chen (2nd from l) and UDC’s General Manager, Miss Joy Douglas (beside PM).The 35- acre world class facility is capable of housing conferences, exhibitions and banquets. With the opening of the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Jamaica will host the largest tourism trade show in the region- Caribbean Marketplace 2011 on January 16.

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Chen Jinghua said that thanks to the unrelenting hard work of developers, Complant and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the Convention Centre had become a reality after two years. He said that centre is not the first nor will it be the last expression of the love that China has for Jamaica as Complant and other Chinese companies are busy helping Jamaica build economic housing projects and more.

General Manager of UDC, Mrs Joy Douglas said the 35 acre world class facility is capable of housing conferences, exhibitions and banquets.  With the opening of the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Jamaica will host the largest tourism trade show in the region- Caribbean Marketplace 2011 on January 16.