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Father of the all-inclusive sector - John Issa featured in eHotelier

Published:Friday | June 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM
John Issa

Western Bureau:

The man credited with creating the game-changing all-inclusive concept, veteran hotelier John Issa, is among the top industry icons featured in the June 20 issue of the Global Portal for Hospitality Professionals, eHotelier.

Issa, renowned for his role in creating the first all-inclusive hotel in Jamaica in 1976, the Negril Beach Village (now Hedonism II), is hailed by eHotelier as an icon whose contribution to the hospitality sector spans five decades.

The Jamaican hotelier was 21 years old when he was given responsibility for his family's hotels.

"My family was in the hotel business and I was extremely attracted to the tourism industry because of its potential for Jamaica and the region," he stated during the interview with eHotelier.


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Issa has since gone on to operate three brands - Breezes Resorts, Hedonism Resorts, and Rooms On The Beach in six countries.

"He took the all-inclusive concept further, included drinks, and created the world's first totally all-inclusive resort for couples only. Both events were of great significance for the Jamaican tourist industry and the economy as a whole," says eHotelier, adding that the concept has since been imitated all over the world.

Issa has since gained the title Father of the All-Inclusive Industry.

Forty years after its inception, Issa tells eHotelier that the greatest challenge he faces is in educating the consumer as to what is really all-inclusive "because many vacations claiming to be all-inclusive have many compulsory add-ons, whether it be resort fees or service charges, for example. At Breezes, we pride ourselves on having no hidden charges, and tipping is not permitted".

The man who said the best piece of advice he received as a businessman came from the late John Pringle, director of tourism at the time, who told him, "Never believe your own propaganda", told eHotelier that he is kept motivated by the creative side of the industry.

Not necessarily excited about what is happening in some aspects of the industry, the respected hotelier said now, bigger seems to be equated with better.

Citing cruise shipping as an example, he said the new cruise ships - which between crew and passengers have a larger population than many of the Caribbean Islands - have more retail space than many of the smaller Caribbean Islands.

"The exciting developments in the hospitality industry seem to be more in the method of

distribution and selling, with the trend towards more direct and online bookings by people wanting to travel and travellers being able to compare pricing very easily," he noted.

Recognised for his indelible contribution to the sector, Issa has received many prestigious awards and national honours, including the Order of Jamaica (1998), the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (1983) (Jamaica), and The Order of the Southern Cross (2001) (Brazil).

In 2002, he received the Legacy Award: Caribbean Luminary from the University of the West Indies. He was also awarded the Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) from the Northern Caribbean University in 1999 and from the University of the West Indies in 2009.

The publication noted that Issa, in 2000, was inducted into the Private Sector of Jamaica's Hall of Fame and was named Master Entrepreneur of the Year for 2003 by Ernst & Young. In 2004, he was featured on a postage stamp commemorating the centenary of Jamaican hotel law.