New arbitration law to boost tourism
With Jamaica positioning itself as an international arbitration location under the powers of the new Arbitration Act, the local tourism industry is primed for further growth as hundreds of upper-class visitors are to be expected yearly, according to Secretary General of the Jamaica International Arbitration Centre (JIAC), Dr Christopher Malcolm.
Passed in April, the Arbitration Act 2017 repealed and replaced the 1900 Arbitration Act and seeks to provide an effective non-judicial mechanism for settling disputes between contracting parties.
Malcolm's declaration comes ahead of the very first arbitration conference to be held in Jamaica on August 28 under the theme, 'Boosting the use of arbitration in the Caribbean'.
"Already, there's an immediate impact as this conference alone has seen close to 200 paying visitors staying at our many hotels," Malcolm told The Gleaner's news team during an Editor's Forum at the company's Kingston base on North Street.
While noting the global euphoria often linked to Brand Jamaica, the attorney stated that the JIAC was keen on staging the conference annually and having it expand thereafter to accommodate between 500-600 visitors.
"With international arbitration, you'll have participant parties coming in, attorneys, tribunal secretaries and all sort of administrative facilities around it. That will mean, for the length of the proceedings, which can span days to even years, depending on the nature of the arbitration, you'll have rooms being occupied, attractions being utilised, and a host of other activities that generate revenue," said Malcolm.
In an effort to get maximum mileage from the event, Malcolm disclosed that the JIAC was hopeful of enlisting the tourism ministry as a sponsor for the closing event of the conference.
Malcolm argued that while other arbitration centres have focused on the physical space, the JIAC would focus on a virtual space, set up administrative arrangements and then seek to enter into facilities agreements with commercial entities.
"So hotels will provide their facilities for the conduct of arbitration and, to that extent, we're creating that international commercial nexus and linkage," added Malcolm.
Opposition Spokesman on Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton agreed with Malcolm, stating that Jamaica's agreeable climate and appropriate infrastructure would see visitors spending for a unique experience.
Hylton argued that it would suit the tourism ministry to interlace legal services into its marketing strategy, similar to gastronomy tourism.