KINGSTON, JAMAICA – Efforts to diversify the island’s tourism offerings have received a major boost as timeshare vacations are set to be added to Jamaica’s tourism product mix with the passage of the Timeshare Vacations Bill. The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday (October 21) after being piloted by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who said the legislation, will further expand Jamaica’s accommodations offering, while adding another tool to the island’s investment portfolio.
Timeshare is a form of joint ownership or lease of a vacation property by several people who take turns occupying the premises for fixed periods; often one week. These properties are typically resort condominium units but can also be single family homes. From the purchasers’ point of view, timeshare or vacation ownership allows the acquisition of future holiday accommodation at today’s prices.
Minister McNeill said “Jamaica is keen on developing a more sophisticated tourism product, one that also embraces the timeshare/vacation ownership market.” He pointed out that research has shown that Vacation Ownership is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global hospitality industry. “There is huge and significant potential for further growth and development of the timeshare product in the Caribbean and especially in Jamaica,” he said.
Noting that currently investment in Jamaica’s tourism sector is high, Minister McNeill emphasized that “prospective investors have shown an interest in developing timeshare in Jamaica and this can be of particular benefit as it includes a mix of accommodation such as integrated leisure resort facilities with luxury condo resorts.”
Listing the benefits of timeshare, Minister McNeill said that in the last decade timeshare has been viewed as a significant driver of business in the hospitality sector. “It has the potential of further fuelling the dynamic growth which Jamaica’s tourism sector is currently enjoying,” the Minister added, noting that timeshare schemes also provide employment and can readily inject funds into multi-purpose projects.
The potential benefits of timeshare to Jamaica’s tourism industry also include a reduction in the seasonality experienced in the accommodation sector; improvement in the quality of tourism accommodation as timeshare offerings tend to be high end; maintaining increased occupancy levels as timeshare guests are usually repeat visitors; and attracting some of the world’s most celebrated hospitality brands that are involved in timeshare.
Minister McNeill noted that the Timeshare Vacations Bill is designed to achieve two main objectives. First, it will give legal recognition to timeshare vacation schemes in the form of right-to-use agreements, which are timeshare contracts and deeds issued in respect of these agreements. Second, it also regulates the marketing, promotion and provision of timeshare accommodation and will entail the establishment of a Timeshare Vacations Registry. The Real Estate Board will serve as the Timeshare Registrar.
During the brief debate on the Bill the legislation was amended to include specific reference to vacation clubs, which Minister McNeill said “is an important marketing tool used by the sector and which is growing in popularity.”
In lauding the many individuals, ministries and entities which helped to develop the Bill Minister McNeill said the passage of this legislation is timely in light of the government’s growth agenda and the fact that global trends show tourism to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy. He emphasized that the Timeshare Vacations Bill has the ability to help to propel the industry into an even more competitive position.