64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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· Colleague Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz;
· Mexico's Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency, Martha Cecilia Jaber
· Mr. Andrey Dryakin, Head of the Consular Section of the Embassy of Russia
· Renfrew Hotel Principals, Mr. Evan Williams and Mr. Joe Bagdanovich
· Members of the Media
· Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening...
· Any piece of real estate that bears the signature of Evan Williams is marked with a brand that reflects creativity in design and excellence in finish.
· As a renowned architect, in a personal way he brought his skills and knowledge to bear on Kingston’s epicurean landscape with the creation of Redbones Blues Cafe.
· Now add that to the entrepreneurial mind and financial savvy of investor Joe Bogdanovich and you get what we have here today.
· This US$7 million investment was originally planned to be a mixed-use building but with tourism where it is now, and where we are taking it, I’m sure Evan will have no regrets that he changed his mind and has given Kingston this beautiful hotel thereby adding to the quality product that we are able to sell in an expanding number of markets.
· Very importantly, the coming together of these two brilliant minds to create a welcome offering to the development of Kingston as an attractive tourist city is a great example of what we mean in my Ministry, and indeed in government, as the intrinsic value of fostering partnerships. In this project we have a Jamaican and an American who has made Jamaica his home, coming together and sharing their commitment to the development of the country in a very tangible way.
· I must take note of the name Renfrew Hotel for a number of reasons, but one in particular. Renfrew Hotels is a well-known brand in the United Kingdom and is acclaimed for good value, warm and cosy atmosphere, good food and great staff.
· These are elements of the five pillars on which we are growing our tourism industry as we develop Jamaica as a world class destination. They are not new to us. In fact they are the reasons why we enjoy 40 percent repeat business and why our goal of having 5 million visitors visiting annually could be realised not in five years, as we had targeted, but even earlier.
· Government’s policy of economic growth and job creation relies heavily on the tourism sector but business development is also crucial to the national strategy and the expansion of business-type hotels such as Renfrew increases the opportunity of attracting a larger share of the business tourism market.
· Also, you are poised to attract extended stay visitors which place you in position to target the lucrative Timeshare industry, which has a total impact of nearly US$114 billion when you include indirect and induced impact. As you know legislation facilitating this area of vacation travel came into effect in May of last year.
· Timeshare or vacation ownership is the acquisition of future holidays at today’s prices and gives multiple individuals the right to use a property within an allotted time-frame usually fixed to a particular week of each year.
· Timeshare has now become popular across the vacation destination segment of the hospitality industry and will undoubtedly be the new frontier for further growth and development in the Tourism industry.
· So, there is a lot of potential for growth in the tourism sector. Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril, Port Antonio and the South Coast are holding their own as designated resorts. We are now looking at Kingston as a unique resort city but it sells itself in other ways.
· When you put into the mix the menu of rich cultural heritage from Port Royal to Spanish Town, you understand why we believe the capital city must play a pivotal role in bringing visitors to the island to experience the diversity of our music and dance, historical sites, the range of culinary delights and, more importantly, the warmth of the welcoming embrace of our people.
· Kingston’s current room count is short of what is needed. Thankfully, the need for more hotel rooms in is gradually being met with your 32 high end rooms and 8 two-bedroom apartments adding to the room stock.
· We recently had the Courtyard by Marriott next door adding some 129 rooms; the soon-to be reopened former Wyndham New Kingston will bring back some 303 rooms; and Sandals Resorts International’s (SRI) 220-room AC Hotel by Marriott is slated to open for business Winter 2019.
· However it’s not only happening up town – the Oceana Hotel, once the hotspot downtown, is being restored also.
· I mentioned the five pillars of tourism growth and promoting investment is one of them. Jamaican and international investors are therefore encouraged to develop partnerships as Evan and Joe have done; let us grow together.
· I am confident that Joe, Evan and their team will make Renfrew an outstanding symbol of business ingenuity and a true representation of our vision for development moving forward.