As the tourism sector seeks to rebound from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jamaica Tourist Board’s ‘Rediscover Jamaica’ campaign is being hailed as a major success in helping to drive this process. In highlighting the positive contribution of the campaign, Jamaica Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett said it “has been a great success, with some hotels reporting up to 50% to 60% occupancy from local bookings.”
Minister Bartlett, disclosed this recently as he welcomed the reopening of the 49-suite Zoetry hotel in Montego Bay, following a seven-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Bartlett expressed confidence that “this initiative will continue to reduce the impact caused by the fallout from a decline in international tourism receipts and ensure continued buoyancy of the sector until some semblance of normalcy returns.”
He also noted that currently Jamaica is enjoying the highest booking rate in the region with more bookings directly rather than through travel agents. If current levels of interest are maintained, “we are potentially looking at over one million visitors by year end, which would be a fairly impressive achievement, given the current environment,” stated Minister Bartlett.
Regarding investments, he said investors continue to show confidence in the Jamaican market, adding that 90% of previously planned projects are still on target, despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those slated to come on-stream are a 1700-room hotel in St. James, 2,000 rooms in Green Island, Hanover, and tourism development programs for Kingston and Port Royal.
“This show of confidence in Jamaica by investors has helped to boost our image as a leading tourist destination,” said the Minister as he noted that these investments are creating job opportunities and further fueling the expansion and diversification of the tourism product.
For its part, government was working to create an environment that attracts and fosters premium investments in the sector and to this end, “we are investing in infrastructural development, including the modernization and expansion of the two international airports, improvement of the road network, and expansion and development of our cruise ship piers,” disclosed Minister Bartlett.
He noted that as the country recovers from the current COVID-19 crisis, there was little doubt that the future growth of the nation must be through tourism. “If tourism’s recovery is to be responsible and sustainable, we must look beyond investments in accommodation and encourage investment in experiential marketing arrangements that will keep Jamaica competitive and cutting edge at all times,” the Tourism Minister said.
Zoetry is one of several properties operated in Jamaica by AMResorts, including the 700-room Secrets Resort, and Breathless Resort, which also reopened its 150-room property recently. Secrets has been back in operation since August 8.
Associate Director of Sales, Kaylia Harrison disclosed that a day after reopening, Zoetry hosted a wedding and most prior bookings had rebooked for October, “so the occupancy is not looking badly at all. This weekend we will be in the 50s and 60s percentage wise, so that’s good.”