CHAs Marketplace off to a running start in Jamaica

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- Financing has been secured for Jamaica to forge ahead with construction on a convention center large enough to host the regions largest meetings, such as the annual Caribbean Marketplace, according to Jamaicas prime minister P.J. Patterson during the keynote speech at the opening of this years Marketplace event.

Patterson said that Mexico president Vicente Fox had confirmed that BancoMex would finance the convention center; specific details will be released shortly.

The Caribbean Hotel Associations annual event, held for the first time in Jamaica since 1980s event in Kingston, is the largest ever, with more than 1,025 delegates in attendance, according to Berthia Parle, CHA president.

In fact, the event, which is being held at Half Moon resort in Montego Bay Jan. 9 to 11, is so large that CHA erected a 42,000 square foot air-conditioned tent to house the trade show with supplier booths. The tent took two weeks to construct and arrived in Jamaica in a 28-container shipment from the U.S.

In other news, after observing a moment of silence for the victims of the tsunami disaster, Patterson warned that the hurricanes of 2004 in the Caribbean should have taught us valuable lessons. The damage inflicted has drained nations of resources to repair and recover. We must work to build greater awareness of natural disasters, such as tsunamis.

Patterson called for the formation of Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response groups to work on tsunami alerts and called for a plan of action to anticipate danger, alert the people of the region and share knowledge for the common good of all. -- G.N.M.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- More than 12,000 new rooms will join the room inventory in Jamaica within the next eight years, according to Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) officials who outlined development plans at the Caribbean Hotel Associations Caribbean Marketplace, being held here Jan. 9 to 11.

Officials also underscored the future of Air Jamaica and its tour division, Air Jamaica Vacations, and said that the airline will fly, will continue to fly and it has not declared nor will it declare Chapter 11 or its equivalent.

Meanwhile, Paul Pennicook, JTBs director of tourism, reported that the tourist enhancement fee of $10 per arriving air passenger will be collected at the time of booking and built into the ticket cost; cruise passengers will be assessed $2 each, which also will be built into ticket cost.

The date for implementation of these new fees has not yet been determined, although officials forecast that it would be late winter. Funds collected will be used for cleanup and beautification of tourist areas in Jamaica.

New hotel developments include: 

  • Spanish hotel developers RIU, Grupo Panero, Iberostar and AMResorts will build 5,000 new units over the next two years; 

     

  • On a local level, Sandals will open its 360-room Whitehouse property Feb. 10 on Jamaicas southwest coast; 

     

  • Sunset Hotels will reopen the 85-room Sunset at the Palms in Negril on Jan. 15, the 720-room Sunset Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios on March 19 and a water park at its Sunset Beach Resort property in Montego Bay at the end of the month; 

  • Rooms, now room and breakfast resort operated by SuperClubs, reopened in December with 97 rooms.
  • On Air Jamaica

    The new board of Air Jamaica, appointed Dec. 23 when the government assumed full ownership of the carrier, has been appointed for six months only.

    Pennicook said that, There is no intention to make Air Jamaica under government control permanently. The new board is charged with getting Air Jamaica a viable plan of growth.

    Other than the loss of Antigua service, reduction in London flights and fleet size reduction from 20 to 17 aircraft, developments that were announced by the carriers previous owners, Air Jamaicas schedule remains intact.

    Air Jamaica Vacations is very much there, is operating as usual and is 100% in business, Pennicook said. Agents can book Air Jamaica Vacations with confidence.

    Air Jamaica Express, which is owned by private investors but has an arrangement with Air Jamaica, is unaffected by the changes at Air Jamaica, Pennicook added.

    To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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