Business

Region will be putting faith and confidence in the power of Sandals’ brands — PM Simpson Miller

Monday, May 26, 2014    

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Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller delivered a well-received speech at the official opening of Sandals Resorts International's (SRI's) Key West Village resort last week Sunday in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). She made it plain that against the tough economic times, the region would be counting on SRI Chairman Gordon 'Butch' Stewart to assist in the marketing of the regional tourism product and bringing more visitors by land, sea and air to the Caribbean. Here is an excerpt of the prime minister's address:

THE history of the TCI is closely intertwined with that of Jamaica for over five centuries, dating back to the encounter by the Turks and Caicos islanders with Christopher Columbus, two years before the explorer put foot on Jamaican soil in 1494. Our common experiences in this space in the Greater Antilles are also marked by some 85 years of relationship.

I offer the warmest regards to the Government and people of the Turks and Caicos, a place described as the "last of the exotics" and a place that is "beautiful by nature". This investment by Sandals in the economy of the Turks and Caicos is proof positive

of this.

This is why it is such a pleasure to be here to witness and applaud another master move by this group of companies. There is no question that you continue to raise the bar, time and time again, by delivering on your brand promise to give every guest "the time of their lives", by providing an experience that is second to none.

This resort, the Key West Luxury Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos, is a proud continuation of a tradition of excellence that has been celebrated and revered in world tourism. One needs only to look at the faces of the happy guests and the buzz and energy of the highly trained staff to know that Butch and Adam Stewart and their team have done it again!

The Honourable Gordon 'Butch' Stewart has been a consistent champion of and for Caribbean tourism. I offer my congratulations to the Stewart family, and to the entire team, on the achievement of yet another major milestone, as you expand your global business.

To Butch in particular, I say this: "You've come a long way, my friend! As it is said: "From small acorns grow big oak trees.

Over 30 years ago, Butch acted on his dreams by acquiring a small hotel in Montego Bay. Today, his companies operate several resorts across the Caribbean. I am told that his companies operate a total of 4,989 rooms in Jamaica and across

the Caribbean.

His team has consistently continued to consolidate the tourism product offerings of the region by establishing world-class properties and brands in Jamaica, Antigua, the Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Saint Lucia, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Knowing 'Butch' and Adam, their vision and passion will produce many more.

The Hon Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, who in so many ways represents excellence in customer satisfaction and service delivery, has once again, added another stripe to an already exemplary track record.

Adam has successfully filled his father's rather large shoes! You have already begun to blaze your own path, with your professional team -- here and everywhere else in the world you operate.

This team has demonstrated that it is important to work together to achieve the highest levels of service excellence going forward, to define and implement improved service cultures across our region.

As we officially open this property, we can agree that there are many teachable moments we can extract from the impressive vision and track record of achievements by the SRI team. We are agreed that, if we collaborate by pooling our collective wisdom and resources, we can expand and sustain the image and offerings of the Caribbean to become the most sought-after region in the world for tourism.

This will allow our open, small-island economies to:

* optimise our earnings from the global tourism trade

* attract more visitors

* create more jobs, and

* secure the well-being of our peoples in the region.

These must be imperatives for us.

They will only be achieved if we are prepared to expand our economic space, diversify our product offerings and continuously train and develop all the members of our teams.

Our workers are the backbone of our businesses. It is the responsibility of team leadership to ensure that they become the best in the world and the benchmark against which the world measures excellence in hospitality.

To do this, we will need to harmonise our standards of service delivery, and become best in class in this highly competitive business.

This is why we must also commend SRI for its commitment to training its thousands of employees across the Caribbean, and for its Corporate University, which allows employees to further their education

while working.

I believe the Honourable Butch Stewart has been showing us how to be best in class for many years. We do well to be inspired by his passion for quality, his capacity for innovation, and his fearlessness in taking risks to deliver excellence. We need not look for the global benchmark elsewhere, when we have it right here in

our midst.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we well know, our natural beauty as a region gives us a compelling advantage over many of our competitors. This must never give us cause for complacency. Rather, we must seek to make our industry more diverse and sophisticated. We must find ways to bring variety and added attractions to widen our global appeal and popularity.

The global tourism industry is expected to grow by some 4.3% in 2014. This would be the fifth consecutive year of growth for global tourism. We have competed aggressively with both strongly emerging and traditional destinations for market share. With continuing uncertainty in the global economy we must maintain our resolve to continuously lobby to secure the interests of the regional industry.

In this regard, I welcome the recent adjustments by

the British Government regarding air passenger duty. The playing field is now more level and we look forward to increased growth out of the UK into our region.

As we look to the future, the global outlook for tourism is positive, with a forecast of 3.8% growth per year up to 2020. Our economies will be even more dependent on tourism as a major source of revenue and prime contributor to economic growth and development.

Governments of the region continue to applaud Sandals Group for its partnership in terms of investment, employment, taxes and corporate social responsibility. Governments of the region will also be counting on your acumen to assist in the marketing of the regional tourism product. We will be putting faith and confidence in the power of Sandals' brands, and others, to bring more visitors by air and sea to the shores of every island washed by the Caribbean Sea.

On behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, I once again congratulate the team for work well done on the occasion of this, the grand opening of the Key West Luxury Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos. I have no doubt that in keeping with your mantra, this property will "exceed expectations!"

I wish you every success, and hope that the impact of this investment on the lives and livelihood of the people of the Turks and Caicos will be long and sustaining. May you welcome many visitors to your 'Beaches', as the unknown poet invites them to walk...

Across the white sand waters

Meld of teal and turquoise hue,

In sunlight, emerald facets,

In shadow, grays of blue,

First breaking light of heaven,

Tinted sky in tones of shell...,

...Such beauty blinds my vision;

My gaze is downward drawn

To vanilla foam soft swirling

In sandy footprints of eve and dawn.

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