Western News

Rich and famous flock to Jamaica over holidays

Observer West reporter

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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WESTERN BUREAU — Jamaica experienced a surge in wealthy and celebrity tourists who vacationed at private villas and exclusive resorts around the island over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The visits left prominent American businessman and Tryall homeowner James Goren upbeat about Jamaica experiencing a resurgence in high-end tourists..

“An island that in the 50s and the 60s was famous as the playground of the rich and famous is coming back to its jet set status, thanks to its luxury resorts and the availability of beautiful villa residences,” Goren argued.

“The atmosphere of privacy that a villa experience can afford is particularly pleasant for all those celebrities and wealthy tourists who want to relax in perfect anonymity,” he added.

The Tryall Club is one of the Caribbean's top resorts, featuring dozens of exquisite private villas, each one completely distinct in design and layout. The property is set amid 2,200 lush acres with a world-renowned golf course which once hosted the annual Johnnie Walker World Championship of Golf, private beachfront, exceptional cuisine, and some of the best views in Jamaica.

Managing director of the exclusive and award-winning Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Josef Forstmayr, pointed out that Jamaica and Round Hill experienced “a spectacular influx of snowbirds escaping the frigid winter in North America and parts of Europe”.

“Many of these luxury travellers arrived on their private aircraft, causing the jet centre at the Montego Bay airport to almost run out of parking spaces,” said Forstmayr.

Last year, Prince Harry and his fiance, actress Meghan Markle, and dozens of Britain's elite vacationed at Round Hill for the wedding of Tom “Skippy” Inskip, a close friend of the prince.

Notably, Tryall's Goren was quick to point out that Jamaica's appeal is linked to its diverse offerings.

“The island offers the opportunity for excellent music and entertainment experiences, as the latest concert with Shaggy and Sting has shown, an event that may draw even the most sceptical tourist all the way to Kingston. From my personal experience, I suggest that Jamaica keep on offering better and better five-star holidays, good transportation within the island and flawless service and you know... if you build them... they will come,” Goren noted.

Rafael Echevarne, chief executive officer of MBJ Airports Limited, operators of Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport, confirmed that from December 23 to December 31 a total of 60 private jets were accommodated at the airport.

“December 26 recorded the highest number with a total of 18 private jets accommodated. The place was absolutely full,” Echevarne stressed.

Senior advisor and strategist to the tourism ministry, Delano Seiveright, highlighted that the growing market for wealthy and celebrity tourists enhances Jamaica's tourism product.

“Their endorsement of the destination with friends and through their social media posts is worth a whole lot and opens the doors for a variety of intersections through linkages. You would be surprised at the number of persons, ranging from housekeeper and gardeners to beverage suppliers and ground transportation providers, who are engaged to provide services for these visitors. Their dollars spread far and wide,” Seiveright said.

Provisional data from the Jamaica Tourist Board show that a record 4.3 million tourists visited Jamaica in 2017. This, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, represents a 12.1 per cent increase over arrivals in 2016.

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