Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Serious concerns but major players confident of tourism future

Published:Sunday | July 31, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Fourteen-year-old Gabriella Spence (second left) shows Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (left) some of the items she makes and had on display during the Christmas in July exhibition at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Thursday, July 28. Looking on (from left) are Adam Stewart, chairman, Tourism Linkages Council; Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association.

Several local and international investors have expressed confidence in Jamaica's tourism industry in the wake of plans for the expansion of existing properties and the build-out of new resorts in the coming months and years.

The investors have, however, expressed concerns about a range of government bureaucratic obstacles, taxation concerns, and other challenges.

The tourism interests, many of whom jetted into the island for a few hours, for face-to-face meetings with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett last Thursday, voiced their concerns during a private dinner reception at Vale Royal.

Alejandro Zozaya, chief executive officer of Apple Leisure Group, operators of the Secrets and the Sunscape Resorts, noted Jamaica's strong footing for further and more significant growth in the industry.

The meetings formed part of Bartlett's expressions of gratitude to the large group of hotel owners and executives for their investments in Jamaica and gave the minister an opportunity to share with them details of the Government's growth plan.

Bartlett also reiterated the administration's aggressive targets, including to achieve five million visitors by 2021, generate US$5 billion in tourism earnings, boost the total direct jobs to 100,000, and add 15,000 new rooms.

Holness and Bartlett took note of issues faced by some investors and assured them of immediate follow-up with the relevant government ministries and agencies.