Duty Free Shopping in Jamaica a ‘shopper’s paradise’

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Duty Free Shopping in Jamaica is in a class of its own. Although the Jamaican government was at the center of its genesis, its growth has been nurtured by The Inbond industry, which was born in 1954. The basis of the duty free concept is that goods are imported without duty and the savings are passed on to the consumer.

Industry Frontrunners

Some of the frontrunners in the industry were the Hart, Henrique, and Bardwell families. The Dadlani and Chandiram’ families were one of the first set of Indian businessmen who started in Kingston in local dry goods, but very soon established Duty Free businesses in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay at the dawning of the Industry. The Industry is now represented by over 40 companies with over 100 outlets.

B.D. Dadlani arrived in Jamaica in 1931 from India and became one of the pioneers by establishing the first Jamaican business operation in Kingston. His son Indru Dadlani was born in Jamaica and educated at Munro College, St. Elizabeth; he heads the three generation merchant family with operations in the resort towns of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril.

Other early contributors to the developing industry were the Khiatani, Daswani, Chulani, and Mathani families.

Duty Free Industry Today

Indru Dadlani, owner of B.D. Dadlani Jamaica Limited (Operator of Casa de Oro chain of jewelry stores) and a key player in Jamaica’s Duty Free industry stated in a Gleaner interview “KPMG has just completed a comprehensive study on this sector. One of the findings indicates that duty free shopping, without any promotion, contributes US$127 million or 12 per cent of the annual tourism earnings.” Mr. Dadlani made this statement in 2004, following the groundbreaking for the new $600 million Shoppes at Rose Hall Project, in Montego Bay.

The first president of The Inbond Merchants’ Association was Alan Hart, followed by Gobin Khiatiani, Gul Mathani, Pishu Chandiaram, and currently holding the position, is Kumar Samtani, Managing Director of Tropicana Jewellers.

Subsequent governments have now recognized this vital industry and are having serious dialogue to move the Industry to a much higher level.

Duty Free operations is licensed by the Jamaica Tourist Board and regulated by the island’s Customs Department. This is where it is unlike the souvenir business, which is governed by different rules and regulations.

The growth of the industry is evident with stand alone luxury and themed shopping mall outlets: Shoppes at Rose Hall and Half Moon Shopping Village and other facilities found in select hotel lobbies such as the Ritz Carlton Golf and Spa Resort and Rose Hall Resort & Country Club, etc. located in one of the most exclusive areas in Jamaica. The foregoing sites attract top tier customers. Additional shopping venues are airport shops and resort towns. Kingston, the capital city and center of commerce, remains a booming metropolis.

Island locations for Duty Free Shopping include: City Centre Building; Half Moon Shopping Village; Shoppes of Rose Hall (Montego Bay); Time Square Mall (Negril); Soni’s Plaza, TajMahal’s and Island Village (Ocho Rios) and some Kingston locations.

Snapshot of a Duty Free Mall

Integrating the shopping experience into the activity of the shopper is an integral part of a Jamaican holiday. At Time Square Mall for example, visitors are treated every Wednesday to Time Square Day which features scintillating Mento music punctuated by the irie vibes of reggae music, performed and arranged by The Overtakers’ ensemble (Ruth, Ruben, Leroy and Princess Tia), basket weaving classes and awarding of spot prizes.

Tourists shopping at Time Square Plaza

Time Square Mall has become a household name in the resort town of Negril and the North Coast under the astute management of Theo and Sharon Chambers, owners of Positive Tourism Limited. The mall is visited by foreign nationals from all walks of life. Visitors come to Time Square with their laptops, sit back and access the worldwide web compliments of the Mall.

World Class Shopping

It is estimated that the consumer benefits from duty free shopping by saving up to 40 off recognized brands than could be purchased back in their home country. It is a well understood fact by Islanders that bargaining is a way of life; this pastime seems to have been passed on to our visitors many of whom come prepared to negotiate for the best deals on select merchandise such as: watches, gold jewelry, tanzanite and blue diamonds.

With unique selections of branded merchandise, wide assortment of designs, and world-class shopping malls such as Shoppes of Rose Hall, Half Moon Village (Montego Bay); Time Square Mall (Negril); Soni Plaza, Tajmahal’s Shopping Centre, Island Village (Ocho Rios) and dazzling Resort hotel shops, it is no wonder we call Jamaica a ‘shoppers’ paradise’!

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