Regional

More rooms, more jobs

Three new MoBay hotels offering 1,500 posts

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, September 28, 2017

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MONTEGO BAY, St James— Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is excited over the prospect of 1,500 new jobs that will be generated following the opening of three hotels earlier this week in Montego Bay.

The properties, representing investments of some $20 billion, officially opened by Bartlett and Prime Minister Andrew Holness over Sunday and Monday, were the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa, formerly Palmyra; Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa; and Zoetry Montego Bay, totaling nearly 500 new and refurbished rooms.

“I am pleased with the addition of the new products to our tourism offerings and the prospects of an additional 1,500 new jobs to the Montego Bay and extended communities in western Jamaica,” declared an elated Bartlett.

“Tourism continues to create good jobs and advance economic growth and prosperity to our country as well as being a catalyst for connecting industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and the cultural industries.”

But, Opposition Spokesman on Tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill, who was equally excited over the generation of jobs from the three hotels, was quick to note that the investments were in the making from the previous administration when he was the tourism minister.

“While the investment is good in and of itself, the important part of it is the extent to which it impacts on the lives of Jamaicans in creating things like jobs and the linkages which are so important,” Dr McNeill said.

“When you look at the investment that is coming on stream now... the spur of investment that is taking place all originated under the work that we (former People's National Party's administration) had done previously and we are happy for it for the country. It's good for Jamaica. But you know it was the work that was done now coming to fruition. It was years of preparation.”

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, was also elated over the opening up of new job opportunities associated with the three hotels.

“The more rooms that are being built is the more jobs that will be created, that's the direct employment, more linkages will be created with the supporting industries whether it be manufacturing, agriculture …” Robinson remarked.

“So it's good that we had three hotels being opened within such a short time. It is positive, it shows that the tourism industry is strong and buoyant, creating jobs.”

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, T'Shura Gibbs concurred with Robinson.

“I am elated to see the strong vote of confidence expressed by these companies in doing business in Montego Bay and the economic prospects they see for the future of the city. The continued expansion in the hospitality sector bodes well for job growth and expanded career opportunities. We certainly have the talent and capacity to run these hotels and the chamber looks forward to seeing the hotels make a serious commitment to developing the local talent at all levels, including the upper management echelons,” Gibbs argued.

In the meantime, the prime minister in officially opening Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa Monday night, hailed the investors for taking the plunge in Jamaica.

“Today's (Monday) official opening of Breathless Montego Bay Resort and Spa is yet another signal that there is a premium on our various tourism offerings, and that the Government of Jamaica in collaboration with partners in the tourism sector, will continue to expand and enhance our tourism sector in order to strengthen Jamaica's position as a world leader in tourism. My congratulations to AMResorts for choosing Jamaica as home for Breathless, you have now expanded your footprint in Jamaica by opening yet another from the AMResorts collection,” Prime Minister Holness said.

And speaking at the opening of Japex 2017 the previous night, Holness argued that the tourism sector continues to support economic growth and development in the Jamaican economy through increased investments and job creation.

“In 2016, the hotels and restaurants industry employed 94,850 persons compared with 88,250 persons in 2015. This represented an approximately 8.1 per cent of the employed labour force. Tourism remains one of our few labour intensive sectors, and also generates indirect jobs for one in every four persons in linked sectors such as agriculture, the creative and cultural industries, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, finance and insurance, electricity and water, construction and many other linked services,” the prime minister noted.

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