Tourism Ripe for Investment – Minister Bartlett
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the time is ripe for investment in Jamaica’s tourism sector.
He noted that with 15,000 hotel rooms scheduled to come on stream over the next four years and Royal Caribbean committing to bringing the world’s three largest cruise ships to the island, there are opportunities for investment in various areas of the industry.
Minister Bartlett said that the international rating agencies continue to rank Jamaica as one of the best places in the world to do business and “it also has not gone unnoticed that tourism has not failed to grow and continues to demonstrate the kind of profitability and dependability that investors like to see”.
“Every reputable economic indicator I have seen speaks glowingly about the business environment we currently have here in Jamaica,” he added.
Minister Bartlett was addressing business interests and tourism stakeholders at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $1-billion expansion of the Appleton Rum Estate Tour complex in St. Elizabeth on November 18.
The project, scheduled to get under way in January 2017, involves the 25,000 sq. ft. expansion of the existing facility.
The main building will be the welcome centre with a theatre, luxury bar, five-star restaurant and other amenities. It is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2017/18 winter tourist season.
Minister Bartlett praised J. Wray & Nephew for undertaking the project, noting that the investment is a signal of confidence in the economy.
Minister Bartlett noted that the project, which includes establishment of a gourmet restaurant serving the best in local cuisine, is very timely and coincides with the efforts of the Ministry to develop food-based or gastronomic tourism.
“This is a very critical area where quality investment is needed. When you look at the fact that some 39 million United States (US) leisure travellers choose a destination based on the availability of culinary activities, while another 35 million seek out culinary activities after a destination is decided upon, (it) only goes to show the kind of potential we are talking about. Let us not forget that the US represents 63.3 per cent of stopover arrivals to Jamaica,” he pointed out.
For his part, Chairman of J. Wray &Nephew, Clement Lawrence, said his company has every reason to feel optimistic about the future of tourism in Jamaica and intends to make the south-coast region a major force in terms of arrivals.
“We are expecting the entire region to be transformed in a very positive way,” Mr. Lawrence explained. Tourism is really for and about the people, and it is our intention to involve as many of them as possible in what we are doing here at the facility,” he said.
He pointed out that the facility will be closed to facilitate the start of work, which is expected to be completed in time for the 2017/18 winter tourist season.
“We believe this is a good a time to invest in Jamaica. These are real exciting times and we can’t wait to get started,” Mr. Lawrence said.
The Appleton tour provides visitors an opportunity to visit the historic rum distillery, which has been in operation for more than 250 years. Among the attractions are the ageing house with its oak barrels and the copper pot stills that give Appleton Rum its rich flavour.