Tue | May 23, 2017

Winter tourist season showing good returns

Published:Thursday | February 19, 2015 | 2:00 AMBarrington Flemming
A smiling Phillipa Hutchinson a front desk agent (second left) is surprised and happy to be the recipient of a 46-inch flat screen television set, after she was named Employee of the Year for Secrets Resorts and Spa at a Staff Awards Dinner. Making the presentation are: (from left) Emilio Huhn, general manager, Andrea Allie -Thorpe, human resources director and Deryk Meany, resident manager.

With the 2014/15 winter tourism season now on in earnest, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has good reason to be happy, as based on stopover arrival figures for the month of January, the country has recorded a seven per cent increase over the corresponding period last year.

Director of Tourism Paul Pennicooke disclosed the figures while giving the keynote address at the 2014 Staff Awards at the Secrets Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, recently. The event was staged under the theme Dazzling Divas, Dashing Dudes - Better Than the Rest.

According to Pennicooke, the fact that the country was grappling with stringent International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions had caused many persons to believe that the outlook for the industry was bleak and that growth was only a pipe dream.

"It is a credit to the workers in the industry as well that the industry saw growth of over seven per cent in visitor arrivals to the island in 2014," said Pennicooke.

"Stopover visitors increased by 3.6 per cent and cruise arrivals went up by 12 per cent. The momentum has continued in 2015. The preliminary figures indicate that the month of January we had a seven per cent increase in stopover arrivals and the first week of February we had a 7.3 per cent increase in visitor arrivals."

Pennicooke noted that as a destination, Jamaica still had a lot of work to do. However, he indicated that there was an upswing in progress, based on the positive performance in 2014.

Phillipa Hutchinson, a front desk agent, was the toast of the awards ceremony, copping the coveted Employee of the Year crown.

Rewarding experience

"I was so surprised! Honestly, I never imagined it would have been me," said the elated Hutchinson."

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."

Shane Myrie of the Housekeeping Department was the first runner-up, while Shreen Richards of the Food and Beverage Department took third spot. Shereen Facey Thelwell, events manager at the property, took the Leader of the Year title.

The awards ceremony, which was complemented by a rich entertainment package, featured a dazzling performance by the inimitable Ashe Ensemble, who thrilled with a pleasing rendition of Fantasia's The Other Side of the Rainbow, and a medley of Jamaican songs, which was aptly dubbed, Hit Me With Music.

The entertainment package also included England-based violinist John Davis, who impressed with a wide-ranging performance, which included traditional Jamaican folk songs, popular from the movies, and John Legend's hit single All of Me.