JIS News

There are significant investments in the current upgrading of several tourism properties involving new owners and brands that are expected to enhance the attractiveness of Jamaica as a destination.

This was revealed by Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, when he opened the 2013/14 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, on April 18.

He informed that among the investments is the Seashore Beach Bay Resort, formerly Poinciana in Negril, which was acquired last year by Karisma, a group out of Mexico. The property is being upgraded at a cost of $1.1 billion.

Another such venture is the former Starfish Hotel in Trelawny, which was also acquired last year by the Sunwing Travel Group, a Canadian company.

Dr. Phillips said the hotel will be operated under the Memories White Sand brand and its 350 rooms are undergoing major refurbishing involving an investment of over $2.5 billion.

Additionally, global hotel operators, Melia Hotels International (MHI), has entered into an agreement with the National Insurance Fund (NHF), to manage the resort property at Braco. The hotel’s 226 rooms are slated to undergo major renovation in the coming months.

The Minister further informed that last November, RIU commenced construction of a 238-room hotel at Mahoe Bay in Montego Bay, which will be opened for the 2013/14 winter season.

“This is an investment of over J$4 billion or US$43 million, and will represent RIU’s high-end brand of suites,” he noted.

The Minister emphasized that the upgrading of existing hotels and construction of new rooms is critical if the country is to remain competitive.

“We must recognise that the industry has to respond to continuing competitive pressures from other destinations. If the sector is to continue to grow, we must constantly raise competitiveness, which means we must both secure investment in new rooms and in the upgrading of our existing stock,” he added.

Dr. Phillips said Jamaica’s tourist industry is experiencing a transition, with new investors contributing to a revitalisation of existing resorts and adding to economic activity.

These players, he said, will bring to the marketplace exciting products that will bolster the local industry.

By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter