TOURISM Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill says 2,000 hotel rooms will soon be added to the tourism stock when a number of current investments are completed.
The increase in hotel rooms is coming at an opportune time as tourism arrivals continue to see an increase, with the country welcoming some 1,081,480 stop-over visitors between January and June of this year, a 3.4 per cent increase over the similar period last year.
McNeill announced that he has already approved the incentives for construction to begin this year for the Marriott International local business brand 'Courtyard by Marriott', which will add 130 rooms in Kingston.
At the same time, he said the Fiesta Group will be adding 850 rooms in its expansion, while RIU has indicated that it will be moving ahead with plans to build a RIU Palace with 232 rooms in Mahoe Bay, Montego Bay.
Bahia Principe, he said, currently has 70 rooms under construction and this is scheduled for completion in November. "We met last week with the principals, who have indicated an interest in further expansion," McNeill explained.
The tourism minister was addressing the weekly Jamaica House press briefing in Kingston, a day after his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament.
Additionally, McNeill said Sunwing has acquired the former Trelawny Beach Hotel and is refurbishing the property with plans to reopen the property later this year. "This group has major plans to construct additional rooms as well as a themed water park on the property adjacent to the hotel," McNeill disclosed.
Strong investor interest, he said, has also been made in the former Grande Lido Braco property in Trelawny with discussions to begin soon.
The tourism minister said there has been a lot of interest expressed in Jamaica by a number of cruise lines. As such, he has projected growth in this sector for the next three years.
"I have met with individual cruise lines and further meeting is to take place this month as a number of cruise lines have come down and met with us and shown strong interest," he said. Some, he said, are premium cruise lines.
With gross foreign exchange earnings of US$1.12 billion for the period January to June, 2012, the tourism minister said that although the figures were provisional they were a clear indication that the industry is off to an excellent start. The 2012 figures, he said, represented a 4.2 per cent increase over the same period last year.