Jamaica’s ability to grow its tourism sector in the midst of the global recession has increased its attractiveness for investment, said Tourism Minister, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett against the background of an announcement yesterday by the Fiesta Hotel Group that they are set to start the expansion of their 1,056-room Grand Palladium Resort and Spa in Hanover.
“They are the largest of the group of investment that is now going to happen. We are expecting to be able to announce two others in short order,” Minister Bartlett announced, adding that “the level of inquiries that we are now getting for investment in the hotel and tourism sector closely resembles that which happened five to ten years ago.”
The Grand Palladium’s Resort General Manager, Dimitris Kosvogiannis revealed that the Fiesta Group will be investing US$280 million to build 900 hotel suites complete with concierge service, pool, and the bells and whistles offered by a luxury resort. According to Mr. Kosvogiannis, the aim of the owners of the Fiesta Group is to make Jamaica the hub of its Caribbean operations.
The addition of the 900 luxury suites by Grand Palladium is part of a broader objective to increase Jamaica’s offering to the luxury tourism market and to grow tourist arrivals and earnings to five million and US$5 billion respectively in five years. “This winter season has been particularly good so far and it may be surprising to some to learn that we have actually run out of rooms for the Canadian market,” the Tourism Minister says. “The question may very well be asked do you have 100 per cent occupancy because that it is the only way you should run out of rooms. The answer is no, we don’t have 100 percent occupancy. But the demand that exists in the marketplace for a certain level of rooms, a certain quality, and a certain price point with a certain value is the issue,” he explained.
The Fiesta Group has plans to build another 2,000 rooms in the next phase of its massive expansion plan which will include a state-of-the-art convention centre and 18-hole golf course, which will make the Grand Palladium Resort and Spa in Lucea the largest mega resort development in the Caribbean.
“The effort therefore to improve and constantly increase the number of high-quality rooms you have in the country is the imperative of the day. We are going to remain competitive, as we are going to be able to continue to drive high arrivals once we can refurbish our rooms to provide high quality rooms across the country,” Minister Bartlett emphasized.
Spain’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuno said that the additional investment by the Fiesta Group is an indication of an economic recovery for Jamaica adding that it augers well for the partnership between Jamaica and the Spanish investors.
“I am very proud that Spain and the Spanish investors are partnering with Jamaica to be part of this growth in the country and in a sector that has very interesting synergies with the rest of the economy as well,” Ambassador Nuno stressed.
This phase of the Grand Palladium expansion is expected to generate over 3,000 jobs for Jamaicans and provide a boost for the economy in the surrounding area driven by the need for various goods and services.