US$2 billion in tourism investments despite pandemic

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic at least six major tourism players have invested near US$2 billion (approximately $300 billion) in new developments spanning the next two years, Ed Bartlett stated this week.

“Our investment climate is positive,” Bartlett, the tourism minister, said in his presentation to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday.

The goal, he added, “to dramatically increase the number of hotel rooms is still on track, and I can safely say that many of the planned investments are still on target”.

He identified the investors as Jamaican company Sandals Resorts International, Princess Hotels and Resorts from Spain, a North American RCD Resorts and Hard Rock International collaboration, the multinational Secrets Resorts, and Spanish-owned powerhouse H10 Hotels.

The developments, he said, will result in approximately 7,000 new rooms and in excess of 20,000 new part-time and full-time jobs.

The projects include Princess Hotels & Resorts’ 2,000 rooms and Casino for Green Island, Hanover; RCD Resorts and Hard Rock International’s multifaceted development which is likely to have three separate hotels along the Elegant corridor in St James, numbering in the region of 1,600 rooms; Secrets’ brand new hotel in St Ann with just over 700 rooms and another new hotel alongside Secrets in St James with 280 rooms; Oceans by H10 which is in the final months of construction of 444 new suites at its Trelawny property; Sandals Resorts International’s acquisition of three properties last year which will be transformed into upscale resorts, namely, Sandals Dunn’s River, Sandals Royal Dunn’s River, and Beaches Runaway Bay, totalling approximately 950 rooms.

The tourism minister also said that Kingston is looking forward to the completion of the 168-room contemporary ROK Hotel on downtown Kingston’s waterfront, the Wyndham Kingston development in New Kingston, and a mixed-purpose high-rise luxury condo development at Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel.

He said that during the 2021/22 fiscal year Harmonisation Group Limited (HGL) is also set to continue work on the Harmony Cove tourism project in Trelawny which will include several luxury hotels, world-class golf courses, a luxury spa, marina facilities, commercial developments, private residencies, and other amenities.

Bartlett noted that even in the midst of lockdowns, Chukka Ocean Outpost in Sandy Bay, Hanover, pumped US$3 million into that development while Red Stripe broke ground for a US$2-million Red Stripe Experience museum at Rick’s Caf in Negril.

The sector, he said, continues to “map out with players in our private sector capital markets, a potential contingency plan to make funding available for the recovery of tourism should there be any systemic COVID-19-related issues with their existing financial arrangements”.

These, he said, are discussions which will continue with stakeholders and Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke.

Commenting on the investments, Delano Seiveright, senior advisor and strategist in the tourism ministry, said despite the tremendous financial difficulties faced by businesses across the sector and the wider economy, here and overseas, “investors continue to express confidence in Jamaica’s tourism product, the expert handling and stability of our macroeconomic environment and an expected bright future”.

“There are ongoing discussions at various levels of government with local and international investors relating to a stream of small, medium and large tourism projects spanning hotels, villas, attractions and other amenities amounting to billions in investments and thousands of new jobs. Some of these investors have been very bullish on Jamaica’s prospects and have been actively scouting the island for appropriate tourism opportunities,” added Seiveright, who is also a director at Jampro.

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