KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime minister Andrew Holness, and minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, on Friday, February 28, broke ground for a US$1 billion multi-resort development Sugarcane Bay Jamaica, in Llandovery, St Ann.
The project is being executed by Karisma Hotels and Resorts on a 226-acre property that will add approximately 4,700 new rooms in the tourism sector.
The landmark investment will create 10,000 new permanent jobs, attract approximately 375,000 visitors annually to the island and generate $850 million yearly to the economy. The resort also represents the first major investment under the country’s ‘Shovel Ready’ Programme.
Prime minister Holness said this investment is an indication of the robust growth in local tourism.
“Significant investments have been made in the industry and these investments have been able to generate significant returns. Investors now know that investing in Jamaica is a profitable business. So, you can be certain that whatever you invest here, will not be at the mercy of whimsical tax policy or other forms of regulations that could deplete or ruin your business. That is not the case in Jamaica. Once you are in, you are solid. You are on a very solid institutional foundation,” he said.
Minister Bartlett said the investment represents a new chapter for St Ann’s tourism output to the overall economy. Additionally, he pointed out that revenue to be generated will enable a wide range of economic activities to take place, providing the basis of “prosperity which is the mantra of this government.”
“So, we are excited about the partnership and I want to say to you that this is a very important moment that you are showing confidence in destination Jamaica. It’s an important moment too, when you are saying to the world, given the current situation that we are facing, tourism is still the energiser of economic activities globally,” Bartlett said. This development forms part of Jamaica’s overall goal of 15,000 new rooms in the next three to five years.
At a sensitisation session on the tourism workers’ pension scheme at the Hotel Tim Bamboo in Port Antonio on Thursday, February 27, some 8,000 tourism workers who do not have formal training are being targeted by the government for certification over the next two years.
“Tourism has provided a consistent employment base for a large number of Jamaicans over the years. In the past, we had seasonal tourism, but today, with 4.3 million visitors coming to Jamaica, we no longer have a seasonal industry, but we have an all-year-round industry that employs people,” Bartlett said.
“We have 33 schools that we started working with last year to provide an associate degree programme for students in hotel management and customer service. The first set will graduate this year as qualified entrants into the tourism sector. We are talking with the universities to do short courses in tourism and law, starting at the western campus and also tourism and security and tourism and health, because all of these are important areas. The certifying initiative will involve partners such as the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI),” Bartlett explained.
Chief sales and marketing officer at Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Armando Chomat, lauded the Jamaican government and its agencies for working with the group to make Sugarcane Bay Jamaica a reality. “Today is set to become a new landmark for luxury travel in Jamaica. The dream of Sugarcane Bay is becoming a reality,” he said.
This article draws on JIS reports from Okoye Henry and Ainsworth Morris.