Sun | Feb 5, 2023

Holness lauds hotel group’s plan to build houses for resort workers

Published:Saturday | November 26, 2022 | 12:09 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (fourth from right) joins other officials in breaking ground for the construction of 18, 77 UNICO Montego Bay Hotel in Lilliput, St James, on Friday. Others taking part in the exercise are (from left) Montego Bay Mayor Leeroy
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (fourth from right) joins other officials in breaking ground for the construction of 18, 77 UNICO Montego Bay Hotel in Lilliput, St James, on Friday. Others taking part in the exercise are (from left) Montego Bay Mayor Leeroy Williams; Rafael Chapur, president of AIC Group; Deputy Prime Minister Dr Horace Chang; Rodrigo Chapur, vice-president of development at RCD Hotels; Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; Audrey Sewell, permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister; and Homer Davis, minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he is delighted to know that foreign investors RCD Hotels group will be investing in housing for hotel workers to support and enhance their luxury hospitality brand.

In welcoming the investment, which will initially see the construction of more than 400 rooms under the UNICO Montego Bay brand, Holness said it was the right thing to do in ensuring that the hotel’s product and destination Jamaica continue to grow, adding that the country was happy to have the Mexican hotel group as a development partner.

More than 1,000 people are expected to be employed through the construction phase and the actual operation of the facility, which will provide an all-inclusive, adult-only experience.

“It has been the case that we have built out hotel rooms for our visitors, and unfortunately, we haven’t put rooms for the workers and it has led to a situation where the comfort of the visitors is sometimes far more than the comfort of people who work in the hotels,” Holness said during the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of UNICO Montego Bay Hotel on Friday.

“If we are truly interested in building an excellent product, then we must not only build rooms for visitors; we also have to build rooms for the workers,” he added. “It cannot be that you have a magnificent hotel and right across the road, (and) the people who are working in that hotel live in substandard conditions. That cannot be the society that delivers the unique product which we sell.”

Government’s role in housing

Holness also acknowledged that the Government has a key role to play in ensuring that there are adequate housing solutions for Jamaicans.

“We know that it s not just an investment in our sun, sea and sand. You are also going to be investing in our society. You are going to start off with 451 rooms; we welcome that. It means that the investment in the society will start with somewhere in the region of 1,000-plus construction jobs, a significant investment in our young people and skilled labour,” the prime minister told the investors.

“But we are also very much pleased to hear that you’re coming to Jamaica with a social consciousness about housing for those 600-plus tourism workers,” he added.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett echoed similar sentiments.

“ ... One thousand houses will be built in this development,” Bartlett said, noting that all subsequent discussions with investors coming to Jamaica for tourism will take into account the impact of the environment, social development and the governance of the area.

Rodrigo Chapur, vice-president of development with the RCD Hotels, expressed thanks and appreciation to the people and Government of Jamaica for the opportunity to invest in the island.

“We are happy that it is our own brand that we are bringing in and it’s the second UNICO in Jamaica,” he said.

albert.ferguson@gleanerjm.com