JIS News

RIU III, the newest and largest hotel on Jamaica’s north coast, has been experiencing record bookings. The hotel, which became operational in November 2005, is currently reporting a 99 per cent occupancy.
The 846-room hotel, which is located at Mammee Bay, St. Ann was built at a cost of US$85 million. Construction of the property began in 2004 and was completed within 18 months.
RIU III is the third hotel built by the Spanish chain since that company invested in a 420-room facility in Negril in 2000. It subsequently established a 416-room property also in Negril. In addition, RIU has bought land for a fourth hotel in Ironshore, Montego Bay.
Director of Operations at RIU, Jamaica, Daniele Camponovo said that the Mammee Bay property has been doing well and has achieved 100 per cent occupancy on several occasions.
He was speaking to JIS News during a Jamaica Promotions Corporation-organised (JAMPRO) tour of RIU and other hotel developments along the north coast recently. Also on the tour were Minister of Information and Development, Senator Colin Campbell and board members and executives of JAMPRO including Chairman, Joseph Matalon and Acting President, Sancia Templer.
RIU is one of six Spanish chains, which are investing in Jamaica. Spanish developments completed, underway and to come on stream over the next five years, will total US$1 billion. These developments are the result of a targeted investment promotion push by the government, which was carried out by the JAMPRO. Mr. Camponovo said that 2006 has been a very successful year for the hotel and reported that RIU Hotels and Resorts came to Jamaica in 2000 because the market had a very high demand for Jamaica as a tourism destination.
“We are very proud of the fact that the property is experiencing full capacity. Jamaica has a very beautiful image that sells well everywhere. Before knowing the island, we had very good feelings because (of) the reggae tradition, the culture of Jamaica and the beautiful seaside, which are not readily available in other territories,” he observed.
Mr. Camponovo also expressed pride in the fact that 85 to 90 per cent of the people involved in the construction were Jamaican, adding that the management of the hotel had continued to hire Jamaicans, with approximately 600 full-time employees, and some 150 to 200 contract workers in maintenance and security departments. This represents a 95 per cent Jamaican workforce at the property, he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Campbell said that hotel developers have reason to be optimistic about the returns on their investment. “I am pleased that hoteliers have been experiencing good occupancy. This augurs well for Jamaica and the hotel sector as it encourages more investors, which will result in more hotel rooms, thereby increasing visitor arrivals to the island, ” he said.
The Development Minister encouraged local business operators in the hospitality sector to prepare for the economic benefits that would result from the layout of the mega investments along the north coast.
“The hotel sites that I have seen thus far are employing in excess of 3,000 workers. Apart from the immediate employment generation, we are in a process that will see the hotel room stock increasing by almost 5,000 rooms between Ocho Rios and Trelawny, which is a significant investment. The ripple effects for small businesses, the agricultural sector, the restaurant industry and the whole array of businesses that support the hospitality industry are tremendous,” Minister Campbell noted.
Additionally, he urged entrepreneurs and businesses in support sectors to take advantage of the economic opportunities that would become available in other areas, such as furniture manufacturing.
“The thing to look for in the development sector is how the multiplier effect impacts other sections of the economy,” he pointed out.
Chairman of JAMPRO, Joseph Matalon noted that “the presence of these new investments was a significant achievement for Jamaica and for JAMPRO,” adding that the level of investment being experienced was as a result of a focused and sustained investment promotion thrust by JAMPRO to attract Spanish and other investors.
Mr. Matalon said that JAMPRO would be working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and other sectors to ensure that Jamaican farmers and businesses took advantage of the increased demand, by supplying produce and other goods and services to the hotels.
The tour provided a firsthand view of the progress of hotel and other developments along the north coast. Among the projects visited were Oyster Bay, Iberostar and the Trelawny multi-purpose stadium, which is being constructed in time for the staging of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.

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