Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Sector players give 2014 good grade

Published:Saturday | December 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Carnival Victory at the Ocho Rios port on Monday.-PHOTOS BY CARL GILCRIST

Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:Despite the challenges that impacted the major productive sectors in western Jamaica during 2014, stakeholders, especially in the BPO/ICT and the hospitality sectors, still think the region experienced significant growth during the period.

"The business processing outsourcing industry experienced a great year, every player in the sector would have enjoyed some level of growth," said Davon Crump, chief executive officer (CEO) of Global Outsourcing Solutions Limited. "The issue of space continues to be a challenge, but we are not short on talent and we have a great pool of workers to choose from."

Crump, who is at the helm of one of the few locally-owned call centres operating in western Jamaica, says many barriers, including the once-problematic language situation, are being overcome and he expects the trend to continue.

"There has been an improvement in the language capability of the local workforce, which is quite good for the sector," said Crump. "Nonetheless, I believe more will have to be done in order for Jamaica to compete with countries such as Costa Rica, where English and Spanish are spoken and the teaching of Mandarin is now taking place."

For Crump, the major hurdle remains the high cost of energy, which he said has been a turn-off to some potential investors.

"A big challenge has been the cost of energy and if we noticed more and more firms are looking to Trinidad and Tobago because their energy cost makes that location attractive," noted Crump. "If the local sector is to realise its full potential, we must do something to address our energy cost.

In reflecting on the status of the hospitality sector in 2014, businessman John Biles, the CEO of Chukka Caribbean, one of Jamaica's leading adventure tours, said 2014 was a relatively good one for the Tourism/hospitality sector.

"Cruise shipping continues to do well and while there continues to be a lower level of disposable income, we are encouraged," Biles told Western Focus.

"Hotels have been steady ... no fall off ... but the truth be told, there was no real growth."

"For me, the big move of the year would have been the improvement to the Ocho Rios Pier and this should lend itself for a better walk-off experience," added Biles.

Towards the end of the year, the hospitality sector got a major boost when outstanding sector players were rewards at the inaugural Gleaner Hospitality Jamaica 10th Anniversary Awards Gala, where some 10 category of awards were handed out.

The awards handed out included the following: Best EP Hotel, Best All-inclusive Hotel, Best Small/Boutique Hotel, Best Eco/Sustainable hotel, Best Purveyor, Best Transportation (ground or air), Best Attraction, Best in Entertainment, Best Convention Centre, and Best Cuisine.