400 jobs at new hotel
Some 400 hospitality workers are expected to be employed when the Melia Hotel Group reopens the former Grand Lido Braco.
The hotel, owned by the National Insurance Fund (NIF), renamed Melia Braco Village, will be opened for the upcoming winter tourist season, says Melia's regional vice-president Alvaro Tejeda Schroder during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Trelawny property last Friday.
Jamaica is the second English-speaking Caribbean destination for the Spanish chain, which opened a resort in Nassau, Bahamas, last year.
"Jamaica is a long-awaited destination, one in which we are anticipating hundreds of jobs," Tejeda Schroder said..
"We are committed to providing the Melia passion for service, even while fostering a strategic partnership of 370 hotels in 40 countries," said the regional VP, adding that their database had collectors of Melia vacations ready to visit Jamaica.
Upbeat about the prospects, Jamaica's Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill reiterated that this latest initiative was part of the ongoing investment in the tourist industry, which continues to fuel the country's economic development.
"Hundreds of additional hotel rooms are being added to the sector," the tourism minister stated, adding that Melia was now added to the growing list of top hotel and resort chains that are investing in Jamaica as the preferred Caribbean tourist destination.
SHOW OF CONFIDENCE
"Their presence is a show of confidence in our destination and Brand Jamaica. The Melia group is one of the largest hotel chains in the world," said McNeill.
He pointed out that arrivals were up, the hotels were full, and the airports were bursting at the seams. "When occupancies are up, it drives demand, and that, in turn, drives investment. We are now seeing the fruits of that investment," said McNeill.
He emphasised that the refurbishing and expansion of the Braco hotel were part of a "burst of investment" in tourism over the past three years to the tune of over $54 billion.
In light of Melia's plans to expand the property, it is projected that the renovation of the existing facility and construction of an additional 250 rooms will provide as many as 700 jobs, after which the hotel will have some 400 employees.
The hotel's general manager, Dimitris Kosvogiannis, stressed that all the employees would be Jamaican.
He said, "I consider it my solemn duty to assure that we'll optimise the Jamaican labour force."
A naturalised Jamaican, with over 20 years working here, Kosvogiannis said, "There is no one that can convince me ... that Jamaican human resources do not produce very capable and highly intelligent individuals that can sit at the helm of any organisation."