JHTA head encourages investors to include employee housing in future projects
RUSSELL... I would definitely encourage anybody coming to Jamaica to build, or any Jamaicans that are going to be building hotels, look at how the housing complement will work (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

MONTEGO BAY, St James — President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Robin Russell would love to see investors in the sector routinely include housing for employees, where possible, as they add rooms to the country's booming tourism sector.

"Anybody who is looking to build, anybody who's looking to establish a hotel in Jamaica, it is a good option. It gives you now your workforce, right there. It would really alleviate a lot of problems. And it will stop the informal communities from forming, which is very important," Russell told the Jamaica Observer during a recent interview.

"So if you're building 1,000 rooms then you're looking at, at least, 1,500 people coming to work on property. Where are they going to live? And then you put stress on the system itself. So yeah, I would definitely encourage anybody coming to Jamaica to build, or any Jamaicans that are going to be building hotels, look at how the housing complement will work," he urged.

He was responding to RCD Hotels' plan to include 1,000 houses as part of its 451-room UNICO Montego Bay. During the construction phase, the project is expected to hire about 1,000 workers. Once the hotel is up and running it is expected to employ more than 600 new employees.

Last Saturday, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett told the Observer that Spanish hoteliers operating in Jamaica have committed to constructing at least 2,000 new residential units for local hotel workers and their immediate families.

The commitment was given, the day before, during a breakfast meeting with the minster and other Jamaican tourism officials in Spain's capital city, Madrid.

At the UNICO Montego Bay ground breaking last November, Bartlett said that in addition to the houses, a partnership has also been entered into with RCD Hotels to construct a stadium in Lilliput, where the hotel will be located. He also said, then, that all future negotiations for hotel developments will include a social development component.

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