64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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Fellow tourism partners, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen…good morning.
I am pleased to be participating in this briefing as Jamaica prepares to host yet another Caribbean Travel Marketplace. It is a tremendous honour for Jamaica to host this event which is the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) premier tourism marketing event for the region.
The Caribbean Travel Marketplace is the single most important business to business tourism event for the Caribbean in any given year – and brings together the major players in the industry to foster further growth in this all-important sector.
This will be Jamaica’s fourth time hosting this prestigious event and like in previous years, as host country we intend to ensure the event is a very memorable one, which will transcend all expectations for this three day exhibition.
When Jamaica last hosted the trade show in 2011 it marked the inaugural event in our newly opened state-of-the-art Montego Bay Convention Centre. Next year’s staging will signal the highly anticipated return of the event to the facility which is now being repositioned to fully tap into the meetings and conventions market as we seek to concretize Jamaica’s place as a premier meetings and conventions destination.
Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014 promises to be one of the largest stagings ever, having already attracted a significant number of buyer delegates so far.
The event will take place against the background of a resurgence in Jamaica’s tourism industry and will be an important event during what we expect to be an excellent winter season.
I am pleased to say that the losses we had at the start of the year have now been reversed and we are now in positive numbers despite having nearly 2,000 rooms out of commission or 10% of the room stock. Summer was up 2.8% and bookings for the Fall and Winter season are pacing well ahead of last year.
Our destination has grown considerably since the event was last held here both in terms of our hotel rooms, with the addition of new world class brands both indigenous and foreign; and also in terms of our attractions. What this means is that Jamaica has so much more to offer Caribbean Travel Marketplace this time around. Most importantly, the event will serve as a platform to showcase our enhanced tourism product.
We have been experiencing new investment and some transition of ownership in the hotel sector. Just last month The government signed a management agreement with one of the largest hotel companies in the world, Melia Hotels International (MHI), for the Spanish hotel chain to operate the Braco Hotel in Trelawny.
The Royalton White Sands in Trelawny has also come on stream with 350 refurbished rooms, while RIU will be opening its new upscale Palace with 238 rooms on December 6.
In support of our drive to create demand for these rooms, we also have substantial airlift capacity coming out of both our established and new markets in order to meet the growing demand for our destination, which is being fueled by our ongoing marketing efforts.
In November we welcomed TUI’s Dreamliner, which was the first ever to fly to the region. The Dreamliner’s fuel efficiency and extended flying range will open up new market opportunities for Jamaica, enabling us to reach deeper into Europe and Asia than had been possible before.
Just last month we welcomed upgraded service by Russian carrier, Transaero Airlines which has replaced its Boeing 777 aircraft with a Boeing 747 with capacity of over 500 seats into Montego Bay.
We also have flights out of the Czech Republic starting in December, and are on target for two flights out of Stockholm, Sweden, one which started in November and the other set to start in December. Additionally, Condor has already started new service from Munich to Montego Bay and is already doing well.
We look forward to hosting Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014, and I am confident that once again the CHTA, in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Jamaica Tourist Board will stage a very successful and productive event. I am convinced that next year’s staging will be one of, if not the best in the history of the event.
I want to thank you all for coming and look forward to your continued support.