The Ministers were speaking tfollowing an extensive tour of four major projects in St. James, Trelawny and St. Ann.
They visited the Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara Resorts in Rose Hall, St. James; Royalton White Sands in Trelawny; the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande Resort, and the Ocho Rios cruise ship pier in St. Ann.
While on a tour of the Hyatt and Royalton resorts, the Ministers were updated on the progress of work, plans for opening, and the value that these properties will add to the island’s tourism product.
Minister Phillips said during the tour, “we (got) a chance to see the tremendous revolution taking place in the tourism sector.”
“At the Hyatt and Royalton, we have seen massive expansions taking place. At the Hyatt, they have added a couple of hundreds rooms and on top of that, they have improved the quality of the product by adding to the physical amenities …they are employing some 1,200 Jamaicans. At Royalton White Sands…not only has that property expanded, but we have seen the plans for an additional hotel, which is going to be established next door,” he informed.
The Finance and Planning Minister said the developments speak to the “potential and the actual benefits that we are getting from the whole Economic Reform Programme, which has made Jamaica’s economy more competitive in global economic terms.”
Minister McNeill pointed out that the hotel developments and the upgrading of the Ocho Rios cruise ship pier form part of an estimated $35 billion investment in the tourism sector over the last two years.
“So, we really are moving in the right direction. It’s not just about the investments as with the investments come jobs…between the properties (Hyatt and Royalton), we are close to 1,500 persons employed,” he noted.
The Tourism and Entertainment Minister said there are several other potential investors “waiting in the wings, hoping to do business in Jamaica”, which he said, is a direct spin-off of the shovel-ready programme. The initiative aims to expedite the process of investment by securing permits and approvals on behalf of investors.
“Already, the excitement that has been built around that …we have three, four, and five people knocking down our doors because they want that done,” he said.
Dr. McNeill said that Jamaica is not only attracting overseas investors but local interests as well, citing Sagicor which has invested in some four properties over three years. “It shows a confidence in the economy of Jamaica and the policies of Jamaica,” he stated.
The Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara (formerly the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall) is due to open next year while major expansion is set to take place at the Royalton White Sands. At the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande (formerly Sunset Jamaica Grande), renovation and refurbishing works are underway ahead of its January 7, 2015 opening.
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