• JIS News

    Prime Minister P. J. Patterson participated in a number of ground-breaking ceremonies for several major resorts across the island during 2005.
    Among the most recent was the ground-breaking for construction of the Bahia Principe Resort in St. Ann by Grupo Pinero of Spain, in October. The project, which consists of a 1,918-room hotel and villa resort, represents an investment of US$200 million and will be built in three phases over a three-year period.
    Mr. Patterson said the resort represented a dividend on the investment by the government in the development of infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications, water supplies and reliable energy resources. “We have to put in place the infrastructure, the roads, the water supplies and ensure that we have adequate energy resources. Those are the things in which my Administration has invested over the period. We are proud of the outcome and this project is a tangible reward for the investments we have made,” Mr. Patterson said.
    The Prime Minister said the Bahia Principe Resort and other projects related to the expansion of the tourism industry formed part of a deliberate plan by the government to concentrate economic activity in areas such as services, where the country had a competitive advantage. He assured environmentalists that the environment and eco-systems in the area would be preserved and protected, since the Spanish developers had an equal or even greater interest in its preservation.
    He also noted that Grupo Pinero had adjusted the original design and location of the resort in order to conform to the conditions required for the protection of the adjacent wetlands. Mr. Patterson said further that the approval granted for construction of the hotel clearly stipulated the conditions that must be met in terms of planning and the environment, to both local and international standards.
    In welcoming the project, Mr. Patterson said housing was a major concern for workers in the industry and appealed to hoteliers to enter into partnership arrangements with the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) and the National Housing Trust (NHT) to alleviate the present shortage. The first phase of the five-star development involves the construction of a 734-room hotel, which is scheduled for completion in 2006. The entire project is expected to employ approximately 1,200 persons during construction, with over 2,000 persons employed upon completion.
    Addressing a Hanover Investment Workshop, staged at the Grand Lido Hotel in Negril, also in October, Mr. Patterson informed that the development of the Lucea Harbour, in Hanover, would be placed on the back burner, while a US$150 million hotel development to take place in Point, just outside of the town of Lucea, is given priority.
    Construction of the five-star hotel, to be built on some 200 acres of land by Fiesta Hotels, began in December 2005, and is scheduled to take approximately 14 months to complete.
    He explained that a significant amount of preliminary work had been carried out and money spent, with respect to determining the feasibility of developing the harbour. He outlined a number of negative factors that surfaced with respect to that project, adding that it was during the deliberations on the project that Spanish interest, through the Fiesta Hotel group, was shown in developing a hotel in the Point area.
    “We had to look at, from the planning point of view, whether the two things could co-exist, and we came to the conclusion, after very intensive consideration and examination, that the area could take one of the two projects, not both,” Mr. Patterson said.
    “The hotel that is going to be constructed, is one of the largest that will be built in Jamaica, at a cost of US$150 million. It will of course provide opportunities for transport operators, as would the case of the cruise ship. It will provide opportunities for people to be engaged in selling souvenir items, as would the case of cruise ships. It would also have inbond facilities, as would be the case of cruise ships, and it would employ 2,000 people on a permanent basis,” he explained.
    Mr. Patterson noted that an agreement had been reached with the Fiesta group to work in tandem with the Government of Jamaica and any developer that might come forward, to develop Fort Charlotte and its surrounding areas in Lucea, into a cultural heritage site.
    Meanwhile, in November, the Prime Minister also broke ground for the Palmyra Resort and Spa in Montego Bay. He said the Palmyra Resort was the direct result of government strategies to boost investment in the industry as outlined in the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development. He further stated that it was a confirmation of the progress made in creating a predictable environment for business development in Jamaica. “These achievements have been recognised internationally, including in the recent World Investment Report that ranks Jamaica 17, higher than most countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region, with respect to the mobilization of investment flows,” the Prime Minister said.
    Mr. Patterson said that while Jamaica was pleased with the pace of investment in tourism, every effort was being made to attract greater investment and achieve strong economic growth that would create employment for women and young people. He said that in this regard, the tourism industry was a priority area, given the labour intensiveness of its operations and linkages to other sectors of the economy. The Prime Minister pointed out that the Palmyra development would bring significant benefits to the people of Montego Bay and its environs in terms of employment as well as the opportunity to supply a range of goods and services during and after construction.
    Turning to the environment, Mr. Patterson said the government was adamant that the economy should be developed on the basis of environmental sustainability, to which all projects must be subjected. He pointed out that the government was seeking to enhance the physical surroundings and landscape of resort centres islandwide and that resources have been mobilized through the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Resources from the Fund will be used to develop cultural, heritage sites and attractions.