MONTEGO BAY: Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, is reporting a 6.8 per cent increase in the occupancy levels of small hotels islandwide, by visitors to Jamaica in 2012, compared to 2011.
“This is significant and we look forward to this segment (small hotels) holding its own, in light of the anticipated increases in visitor arrivals from the new and emerging markets (this year),” he stated, while addressing a special reception hosted by the operators of the Sandy Haven Hotel, Negril, Westmoreland, on Saturday (April 27) to mark the establishment’s first anniversary of operations.
Noting projections for increased global travel this year, particularly out of the United States, Dr. McNeill said accommodating anticipated greater numbers of visitors could prove challenging for several global destinations. This development, the Minister contended, could prove advantageous for Jamaica’s hoteliers, particularly small property operators.
He pointed out that of Jamaica’s 175 hotels currently in operation, some 127 are small or medium sized properties with less than 100 rooms each. He further informed that these small and medium properties account for approximately 5000 of the over 20,000 rooms currently available.
In this regard, the Minister urged the operators to prepare and position themselves to tap into potential opportunities for increased business by reviewing and, as best as possible, tailoring their products and services to fulfill the diverse needs of the visitors. In so doing, he said they would lend pivotal support to enhancing overall efforts at promoting brand Jamaica.
“Although we tend to look to the larger resorts that market heavily internationally, we must also recognize the appeal of our small boutique hotels to an exclusive high end visitor,” he stated.
Dr. McNeill also commended small and medium hotel operators for continuously supporting Jamaica’s agriculture sector, noting that a significant percentage of local produce is used in their establishments.
“It is commendable that the small and medium sized properties are supporting local communities and that their continued success is significantly impacting the wellbeing of many Jamaicans at the community level,” he said.
In congratulating owners of the 35-room Sandy Haven Hotel, Stephen and Antoinette Ucker, for investing in the property, which commenced operations in March 2012, Dr. McNeill encouraged other investors in the sector to take the steps that will better position them among the first to “reap the benefits” of the anticipated increase in visitors travelling to Jamaica.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Regional Office Reporter