64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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· Prime Minister The Most Hon. Andrew Holness
· Colleague Ministers of Government
· Mayors and Custodes
· Chairman and Executive Directors of our Tourism Agencies
· Mr. Rolando Miravete, General Manager, Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica
· Karisma Executives
· Tourism partners
· Members of the media
· Distinguished guests, good morning…
· Jamaica’s success as a leading Caribbean tourism destination is due in no small part to the many fruitful alliances built with our industry partners in transportation, hospitality, entertainment, travel and accommodation.
· It is therefore my great pleasure to be here this morning with one our most important tourism partners for the official opening of yet another spectacular hotel by Karisma – the Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica.
· Though our partnership with Karisma Hotels & Resorts is relatively young, it has been a most fruitful one.
· We take great pride in knowing that Jamaica was the object of Karisma's first expansion outside Mexico. Since officially opening your first hotel here on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach in April 2014, we have witnessed significant expansion.
· Any now we anxiously await the US$1 billion Sugar Cane Jamaica mega-hotel development in Llandovery, St. Ann, which will bring new international brands to Jamaica as well as thousands of new job opportunities in direct and indirect employment.
· Karisma enjoys worldwide recognition for its creative approach to hospitality management and innovation. As a leading hotel brand that is setting a new industry standard for luxury resorts, your vote of confidence in destination Jamaica augurs well for the future of our island’s tourism.
TOURISM SECTOR INVESTMENTS
· The Government is creating an encouraging climate for investment. Jamaica’s tourism sector continues to make huge strides with regard to product development. In 2016, some 1650 new and refurbished hotel rooms were added to the island’s accommodation stock and, this year, the destination expects to add more than 1,000 new rooms.
· Furthermore, with the help of developments like Sugar Cane Jamaica, it is expected that between 2018 and 2021, we will add many thousands of new rooms, spanning the various resort areas.
· As a destination we are pleased to welcome this growing interest and the significant investments which have been made in our accommodation sector.
· These developments make Jamaica an even more attractive and exciting destination for our visitors. This fits in perfectly with our overall strategy to grow and diversify our industry and will go a far way in helping us achieve our arrival targets.
STATE OF THE SECTOR
· Ladies and Gentlemen, the opening of this beautiful beach front resort comes at a time when Jamaica is enjoying significant growth in the tourism sector.
§ Arrivals are up – both cruise and air
§ We are expecting good summer months
§ Demand for new product has driven investment
· Earlier, we had projected that the millionth visitor would arrive on or about the end of June. However, I am pleased to note that all projections were being exceeded and at the end of May there were 973,000 stop-over visitors to the island, rising sharply to 1,026,000 to date.
· Cruise numbers continue to climb consistently. The latest figures from January to May 2017 indicate that we welcomed 885,231 visitors from cruise shipping; a 5.4 per cent increase over the same period last year.
· In addition to this landmark achievement, for the first time in history the tourism sector earned in excess of US$1.2 billion for the period January to May of this year.
· The positive upward trend in tourist arrivals is reflected in the improved hotel occupancies in our main resort areas. I am therefore delighted to have Azul Beach Resort Sensatori 149-suite expansion added to our room stock to meet the increased occupancy demand.
· In addition, this new resort will add significant economic value to Negril by providing hundreds of jobs and generating income.
· We are proud to be commanding the confidence of major players in the global hospitality arena. Their investments are significant for the tourism industry, our economy and our people.
· My Ministry is therefore committed to nurturing the best possible environment for investments to succeed. In addition, we continue to meet our commitments to market destination Jamaica internationally through the Jamaica Tourist Board.
· Jamaica has a first class tourism product, which is growing steadily. To continue on this positive growth path we must offer a product that delivers fresh, engaging and distinctive visitor experiences. The new Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica will help us to achieve this goal.
· Once again, thank you for your confidence in destination Jamaica and for welcoming us here today to celebrate the opening of this wonderful new resort.