Five hotels to break ground in the new year
At least five new hotels will launch construction starting January, with several other investors scoping out lands they intend to build on, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said on Thursday.
The five developments are slated for the north coast, spanning from St Ann to Montego Bay. Bartlett otherwise would not name them, pending, he said, a national announcement.
"We are in the process of putting together the arrangements for these ground-breaking ceremonies," he said during the launch of five new sub-groupings under the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) on Thursday.
The new areas of the linkages programme are gastronomy, sports and entertainment, health and wellness, shopping and knowledge network, each chaired by a member of the Tourism Linkages Council, which oversees the TLN. The network aims to match the supplies of local goods and services with the needs of the tourist sector.
Jamaica aims to grow the tourist market to five million visitors annually in five years.
Regarding current investor enquires being fielded for other properties, the tourism minister said: "We have had not just enquires, but proposals for the purchase of a number of properties, and that, we hope, will be concluded also within the first quarter of next year so that construction can begin in those areas."
Jamaica is targeting a room stock of 50,000 in five years, from which revenue of US$5 billion is projected, he said.
Visitor arrivals increased by 5.2 per cent between January and October this year, compared with the same period last month, Bartlett noted. Stopover arrivals also increased by 2.4 per cent over the same period last year, registering more than 1.8 million visitors.
"We are seeing robust performance out of the United States, Jamaica's primary source market, which saw a 4.6 per cent increase," Bartlett said of the same period.
The European market grew by 5.3 per cent, he said.
Some 2,167 hotel rooms were added to the stock this year, spread between RIU Reggae, Royalton Blue Waters, Royal Decameron Cornwall, AM Resort's Breathless Resort, Zoetry in Montego Bay, Gran Bahia Principe and Moon Palace.
"The outlook for 2017 is also quite positive as more than 1,000 new rooms are expected to be added to our room stock," Bartlett said, referencing previously announced projects. These will come from Royalton Negril Resort and Spa, The Hideaway at Royalton, Azul Sensatori, Azul Beach and Spanish Court West.
The Renfrew in Kingston is expected to add 32 high-end rooms, while the former Wyndham, now under reconstruction in New Kingston, will return about 303 rooms to the market, Bartlett said.