TALKING POINTS BY MINISTER OF TOURISM, HON. EDMUND BARTLETT AT THE GRAND OPENING OF COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT KINGSTON 1 PARK CLOSE, NEW KINGSTON APRIL 15, 2016
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Prime Minister The Most Hon. Andrew Holness
Leader of the Opposition, The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller
Colleague Ministers of Government
Opposition Spokesman for Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeill and other representatives of the Opposition
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Chairman and CEO of Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust, Stephen Facey; Mrs. Valerie Facey and other members of the Facey family
General Director, Caribe Hospitality, Daniel Campos, and other representatives of Caribe Hospitality
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Jennifer Griffith
Mayors and Custodes
Members of the media
Distinguished guests, good afternoon…
I am delighted to be here this afternoon as we celebrate the grand opening of the Courtyard by Marriott Kingston.
It is good to see the continued investment in our capital city - Kingston. The prestigious Marriott brand is a welcome addition to Jamaica’s growing portfolio of international brands. It adds quality and diversity to Kingston’s tourism product.
I am even more pleased that this new investment is a partnership between the world’s largest hotel company and local investors Caribe Hospitality (Jamaica) Ltd., an associated company of Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust Limited (Pan-Jam).
Greater partnerships with stakeholders and new investments are critical elements in our drive to grow tourism and this investment encompasses both.
The word “tourism” readily brings to mind pictures of balmy beaches and major resort areas – Ocho Rios, Negril and Montego Bay. But as we all know, Jamaica’s tourism has so much more to offer. The island’s combination of cultural and natural attractions provides a powerful allure to increase visitor numbers.
As our cultural capital and business centre Kingston is the epicentre of the very attributes that have made Jamaica a strong and unique brand recognized the world over. All of which have achieved iconic status internationally – our popular reggae and dancehall music; our food, from world famous jerk to Jamaican patties; and our athletes, such as Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Frazer-Pryce.
We have the additional pull of Kingston being designated a Creative City of Music by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Blue and John Crow Mountains being designated as a World Heritage Site. Both of these designations are strong selling points that will appeal to travellers with a special interest in culture.
As we seek to grow our tourism industry and attract more visitors to our shores we will be leveraging our cultural heritage as a source not only of national pride but also in response to new trends in world tourism. These trends show that there is a greater interest in local culture by more educated travelers who wish to enjoy not only the traditional sun, sea and sand but also seek authentic experiences with local culture.
According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2015/2016, city trips are the fastest-growing part of the international leisure travelmarket as Europeans, Asians, North and South Americans head forattractive destinations in nearby countries and also overseas.City trips soared by an amazing 82% between 2007 and 2014 to reach a 22% share ofall holidays. There is no reason why Kingston should not profit from these growing visitor numbers.
As we seek to improve and diversify our product offerings we will be taking further steps to develop Kingston as a tourist destination – especially for cultural/heritage tourism and sports tourism.
Kingston is blessed with the world's seventh largest natural harbour and boasts a history of over 200 years. As a capital city it is the heartbeat of our nation - our culture, our history; and it has several major institutions and historic buildings which all have major appeal to tourists. We will be tapping into this.
Critical to the process of developing Kingston as a destination is increasing its room-stock. The opening of Courtyard by Marriott Kingston has aided in this regard with the addition of 129 rooms. I am also pleased to say that we expect some 890 refurbished rooms to be added to Kingston’s room-stock in the medium to long term.
Oceana – 388
Forum – 200
Wyndham Kingston - 303
In closing, I wish to thank the Marriott for their vote of confidence in Jamaica. We are extremely proud to have you as our tourism partners.
This new Courtyard by Marriott is a welcome addition to the Kingston skyline, and I have no doubt that it will add to the appeal of the city as a popular tourist destination.