Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Hotels occupancy levels on the rise – Bartlett

Published:Wednesday | November 11, 2020 | 12:08 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Edmund Bartlett.
Edmund Bartlett.

Western Bureau:

An increase in occupancy at some of Jamaica’s hotels, which is being driven by a combination of ‘staycationers’ and international guests, is fuelling optimism for a robust 2020 winter tourism season, according to Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.

“Some of our hotel properties have reported that they are reaching up to 60 per cent occupancy through a combination of international and local guests, with numbers reaching nearly 90 per cent around holiday weekends,” Bartlett said during a Destination Jamaica update at the virtual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) on Monday.

He said that in spite of the battering the industry has undergone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several hotels are undergoing expansions and upgrading to accommodate more private luxury experiences.

Chief among them, Bartlett said, is Eclipse at Half Moon, a major new luxury property at the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, “that provides the luxury of space, privacy and peace of mind with meticulous health and safety protocols”.

The minister also pointed to the city of Kingston where, he said, renovations are under way on the former Oceana Hotel, which he disclosed will be rebranded ‘ROK – Kingston’.

“The 168-room property, overlooking downtown Kingston’s waterfront, will be managed by Hilton through its Tapestry Collection trademark and will be part of a multipurpose complex including retail, on-site entertainment and commercial office spaces,” he explained.

NEW ATTRACTION AT CHUKKA

He also noted the new ‘Ocean Outpost’ at Chukka in Sandy Bay, Hanover, which offers snorkelling, mountain-to-sea ATVs, dune buggies and water sports, oceanside infinity pool and a new, secluded outdoor lounge area called Seaside Sanctuary which, he said, is “perfect for physical distancing”.

Noting other developments at Chukka Cove in Ocho Rios, the additional expansion of high-end hotels along the Elegant Corridor in Montego Bay and other planned development expansion in Trelawny and St Ann, Bartlett, who is also member of parliament for St James East Central, said tourism stakeholders have been working tirelessly and efficiently to provide a Jamaica that is safe and enjoyable to all, in recovery and beyond.

In the meantime, former President of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, Nicola Madden Greig, who chairs the JAPEX Organising Committee, said despite the impact of COVID-19, Jamaica is not only poised “to regain market share and survive, but, also, to thrive”.

She contended that “2020 was the most difficult and challenging year ever for tourism and the world, which forced the reimagining of JAPEX to being, for the first time ever, “a totally virtual experience”.

Pointing to the record attendance this year of over 2,000 participants, including tour operators, travel agents, local supplier companies and media delegates, Madden Greig said the participation proved the continued strength of Brand Jamaica with international partners from a range of countries, including the USA, Canada, Spain, Russia, China, India, Australia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Mexico and the UK.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com