influence on Jamaica's tourism
:This group of travel agents from the United States enjoy
sweet sound of Second Imij at the 'Carnival Under the Sea'
theme party at SuperClubs Hedonism II in Negril.
according to industry players, notwithstanding its close proximity
to the United States, has flourished partly because of the involvement
of American investors within the sector.
So much so,
they say, that today some of the island's finest resorts are either
part owned or managed by American interests. Up to 65 per cent of
the business coming to the island is derived from America which
tourism insiders note is greatly in part due to the massive advertising
campaigns done in the United States by businesses with ties to Jamaica.
Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios, the largest in the country and
part owned by the powerful U.S.-based Marriott group, stands as
one of the more significant investments. The hotel, which offers
both an all-inclusive and a European Plan package to guests, though
a popular family resort, gets most of its business from conventions
- both local and overseas.
and group meetings account for a lot of our business," explained
Director of Operations Peter Fraser, whose hotel usually operates
at a very high occupancy level. "We have been receiving a number
of overseas cancellations since the terrorist attacks on the United
States last week. With Americans reluctant to fly at the moment
this may affect us for a while."
The Ritz Carlton
luxury hotel in Rosehall, Montego Bay, became a reality because
of one man's dream - the late John Rollins. The American billionaire,
according to his wife Michelle, "has always loved Jamaica and
it was his dream to bring the 430-room upscale property to the island".
Mrs. Rollins noted that having the Ritz Carlton in Jamaica was a
major plus for the country's tourism. She pointed to the posh state-of-the-art
golf course, the White Witch, as a major draw for the upscale market,
noting that "this was my husband's dream."
To build the
golf course and club in addition to its stake in the hotel, the
Ritz Carlton American group kicked in US$150 million into the property.
"This is the sort of belief they have in Jamaica as a prime
destination," noted Verona Carter, the resort's public relations
manager. "Ninety per cent of our business comes from the American
market which is why the barbaric attack on that nation last week
has disrupted our operations greatly."
have been receiving a number of overseas cancellations since
the terrorist attacks on the United States last week. With Americans
reluctant to fly at the moment this may affect us for a while.
P.J. Patterson agreed. He cited as significant the level of partnership
between the Ritz Carlton and Jamaica's tourism interests. And in
calling Mr. Rollins "a visionary and a friend of Jamaica,"
said that having the hotel in the country was a testament of the
country's marquee tourism value. He added that Jamaica was a proud
partner of the U.S.-based group and that both interests would benefit
tremendously from the association.
American tourism investment can be found in the Wyndham and the
Holiday Inn, both in Montego Bay. There are also quite a number
of smaller properties such as the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, Prospect
Villas in St. Mary and recently, Navy Island in Portland. "The
Jamaica Inn has been owned by the same American investors for the
past 50 years," explained General Manager, Peter Hall. "These
are people who love this country and have been major contributors
to the local economy." Mr. Hall said that despite the problems
that have always been associated with tourism, Jamaica Inn, on direct
orders from its American owners, has always sought to protect staff,
noting that "the workers have always been our first priority".
was the response of corporate head offices from abroad following
the September 11 attacks in the United States. The American headquarters
instructed their local hotels to offer free accommodations to tourists
who were stranded in Jamaica. "Numerous guests were given complimentary
stays," said Mr. Fraser. "Jamaica Grande, as were the
case with other properties, did a lot for cash strapped guests."