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Tourism figures continue upward trend · Front-desk agent is Secrets' Employee of the Year

Published:Wednesday | February 25, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarrington Flemming
Barrington Flemming Photo A smiling Phillipa Hutchinson (second left), front desk agent, is surprised and happy to be the recipient of a 46 inch flat screen television set and trophy, after copping the Employee of the Year award for Secrets Resorts and Spa recently. Making the presentation are (from left): Emilio Huhn, general manager, Andrea Allie-Thorpe, human resources director and Deryk Meany, resident manager. 
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Jamaica's tourism industry continues to log impressive arrival figures deep into the winter season with the month of January recording a seven per cent increase in stopover arrivals.

Paul Pennicooke, director of tourism, disclosed the figures while addressing the 2014 Staff Awards of the Secrets Resort and Spa recently, which was held under the theme, 'Dazzling Divas, Dashing Dudes - Better than the Rest'.

Pennicooke said the fact that the country had to be grappling with stringent International Monetary Fund conditions, had many thinking that the outlook for the industry in 2014 was bleak and growth was only a pipe dream.

"It was to the credit of workers in the industry, as well that the industry saw growth of over seven per cent in visitor arrivals to the this island in 2014. Stop-over visitors increased by 3.6 per cent and cruise arrivals went up by 12 per cent. The momentum has continued into 2015, with the preliminary figures indicating that the month of January saw a seven per cent increase in stop-over arrivals and in the first week of February, we had a 7.3 per cent increase in visitors arrivals."

Pennicooke said as a destination, Jamaica still had a lot of work to do, but indicated that there was a turning, based on the positive performance in the past year.

Meanwhile, Phillipa Hutchinson, front desk agent, was the toast of the awards, copping the coveted Employee of the Year title and the 46-inch flat screen television that went along with it.

"I was so surprised; honestly, I never imagined it would have been me. A lot of other persons have worked just as hard, so I was not thinking that I had actually been considered so highly. It's a great feeling," Hutchinson said.

Shane Myrie of Housekeeping was the runner-up, while Shreen Richards of Food and Beverage took the third spot.

Shereen Facey Thelwell - events manager - took the Leader of the Year title.

The awards featured the inimitable Ashe Ensemble who excited and thrilled with a pleasing rendition of Fantasia's The Other Side of the Rainbow and a medley of Jamaican songs, aptly dubbed, 'Hit me with music'.

The entertainment fare also included John Davis, a violinist from England, who soared on the wings of classics, with a wide ranging repertoire, including traditional Jamaican folk songs, songs from the movies and John Legend's hit single, All of Me.