MoBay Convention Centre recognised worldwide for quality events hosting, says Bartlett
After a slow start in pulling in events immediately after its construction in 2011, the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James is at last becoming the big-ticket venue it was designed to be, pulling in a whopping 1,497 delegates for the recently held United Nations World Tourism Organisation Conference (UNWTO) in St James.
The size of the conference has spurred Tourism Minister Edmond Bartlett to declare it "a most resounding success in both essence and quality", giving the convention centre two thumbs up in the process.
Bartlett said hosting the event regarded as the second general assembly on tourism has established Jamaica as a place where hosting top-tier conferences should now be the norm.
"The convention centre was the biggest beneficiary of the conference because it established to the world that Jamaica has a facility that is capable of entertaining the world, and to do it seamlessly and without an incident," Bartlett said.
"We were able to say to the world, 'come'. We registered 1,497 delegates. And they had breakout sessions for the duration of the three-day conference and it was not easy, except for the opening ceremony where we saw all the delegates in one place at the same time," he added.
Said Bartlett: "The convention centre has now warped into a major regional location for meetings and conventions and think tanks, and so forth.
"And for those who are concerned that we might have spent something to fix it up, yes, because in fixing it, we did it to make sure the world saw that Jamaica is a place that can now have their meetings."
The convention centre was renovated at a cost of $200 million in time for the convention.
"The number of attendees coming through the convention centre for various international and local meetings and conventions has also climbed significantly," Mavoy Smith, the convention centre's director of sales said.
"Attendees for fiscal year 2015-16 numbered 34,300, while fiscal year 2016-17 recorded 88,800 attendees - an increase of 159 per cent. We ... have improved by leaps and bounds in recent times," she says.
In the meantime, Bartlett mentioned that three major contracts have been signed for the hosting of events since the conference. In addition, he said that the cost and budget for the conference are in the final stages of tabulation and that, when finalised, the findings will be presented to Cabinet and then to Parliament.
The Montego Bay Convention Centre was officially opened in 2011 as a venue for conventions, trade shows, banquets and theatre-style conferences. With 142,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the J$45-million facility is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.