Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has welcomed the opening of the latest hotel in Sagicor Group’s Jewel Resorts chain, citing that their investment in the local tourism sector is proof that Jamaica still has a welcoming investment climate and that tourism’s future remains bright.
Addressing tourism stakeholders at yesterday’s official opening of the Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, the Minister pointed out that in a few short years Sagicor has become a major player in the sustainable development of the local hotel sector. In welcoming the opening of the newest Jewel property Minister McNeill said “I encourage others to follow in Sagicor’s footsteps.”
“I am particularly elated at the growing trend of investment by both local and international investors in the tourism sector. This and their other investments are proof that Jamaica still offers a welcoming climate for enterprising investors and that our confidence of a bright future for tourism is well founded,” said Minister McNeill.
Describing the dynamic financial services group as one of Jamaica’s most committed partners, Minister McNeill said, “an investment in our tourism product is an investment in our people as it provides employment, exposes our rich cultural heritage to a wider market and generates foreign exchange to support our economy.”
The Minister outlined several initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment to ensure the sector improves significantly. These include a partnership with the Ministry of National Security to make it easier for nationals and visitors to pass through Jamaica’s international airports; the easing of visa restrictions to facilitate travel; and the targeting of new and emerging markets such as Russia and Latin America.
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill (2nd left), cuts the ceremonial ribbon to officially declare the Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa open with the help of President and CEO of Sagicor, Richard Byles (left), and Senior Vice President, Caribbean Operations & Development, Rich Cortese (2nd right). Looking on are Director of Tourism, John Lynch, and General Manager of Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort and Spa, Barbara Burton (right). The 225-room luxury all-inclusive resort in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, was officially opened on Saturday, December 7. It is the third property in Sagicor’s Jewel portfolio, the others being Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort and the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort
He also highlighted efforts aimed at strengthening Jamaica’s position in traditional markets such as North America and Europe; the introduction of a Tourism Linkages Hub to strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors such as entertainment, agriculture and manufacturing as well as the recent introduction of the Russian and Spanish languages skills training programme for tourism workers, which has been receiving excellent reviews.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill (left), has the undivided attention of Shirley Williams (right) as her husband and Sagicor Life Jamaica Chairman, R. Danny Williams, looks on.
The Minister emphasized that we have already begun to see the results of these initiatives. Minister McNeill said “bookings are pacing well ahead of what we had last year and provisional figures indicate that stopover arrivals have increased by 1.4 percent for the period January to November, over last year. The needle is moving in the right direction, and we expect to remain in positive numbers for the remainder of the year.”
Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive adults-only resort, recently underwent a US$5 million facelift and now features 225 rooms and suites. The former Hedonism III property was acquired by the Sagicor Group in May this year and is expected to employ some 300 people. It is the third property in Sagicor’s Jewel portfolio, the others being Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort and the Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa.