Western News

UNWTO conference major boost for MoBay Convention Centre

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Montego Bay Convention Centre last week got a major boost as it was the venue where more than 1,300 delegates, including several world leaders, converged for the Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group, and Inter-American Development Bank Global.

“The value of hosting guests from over 50 countries, including presidents, prime ministers, secretary generals, and the top leadership of some of the biggest businesses and international organisations of the world, is incredible. It required a lot of logistics, including high-level security arrangements, food and beverage, translation equipment, effective media set-up, and much more. The convention centre and all suppliers delivered, and we look forward to hosting more conferences at this level,” Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said.

Well over a year since Cabinet approved the transfer of management, operations and marketing of the Montego Bay Convention Centre to the Ministry of Tourism, the facility enjoyed a record-breaking fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, attaining a 65 per cent increase in revenue and a 13 per cent reduction in operating expenses over the previous fiscal year.

Senior advisor for the tourism ministry Delano Seiveright noted that after Cabinet's approval to transfer the management of the facility to the ministry late last year, Bartlett assembled a small team, including SMG which has professionally managed the convention centre since opening in 2011, Jamaica Tourist Board Chairman John Lynch, Tourism Enhancement Fund Chairman Godfrey Dyer, and had them take a hands-on approach to turning around the centre's fortunes.

“Among some of the basic actions implemented to quickly turn around the facility's efficiency [were] extensive repairs [to] the chiller, thereby increasing operating efficiency, elevating food and beverage revenue to 55 per cent of total event income — representing a 50 per cent increase over the prior year; increased marketing and promotional efforts; and cost-effective deals brokered with suppliers,” Seiveright said.

“This has resulted in more business,” he continued.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Montego Bay Convention Centre Board John Lynch pointed out that while the event wasn't glitch-free, reports so far have been largely positive.

“We value feedback and we will now conduct a comprehensive review of how everything functioned. Hosting an event of this nature takes into account a broad range of external persons and entities, and we strive to ensure that all work seamlessly,” Lynch said.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness, president of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina, prime minister of St Lucia Allen Chastanet, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the Organisation of American States Luis Almagro, Alexandre Meira da Rosa of the IDB Group, and Cecile Fruman of the World Bank Group, as well as several ministers and director generals in government from other nations and international organisations attended the three-day conference.

Meanwhile security was tight, with scores of police officers, military officials and private security swarming the convention centre. There were also several motorcades transporting world leaders and the most senior international business leaders who flew in on private jets, particularly for the black tie dinner and awards on Tuesday night.

The convention centre is located along the Elegant Corridor of Rose Hall, Montego Bay, and is close to more than 4,000 luxury hotel rooms, a full-service medical facility, local activities, five major shopping centres, three world-championship golf courses, restaurants, attractions, and only 10 minutes' drive from the Sangster International Airport. It can host 6,000 individuals for theatre-styled functions in its largest space, the 57,725-square-foot exhibition hall.

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