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Tuesday,  June 18, 2024 7:58 PM 

JTB talks hotels, highways & more

JTB talks hotels, highways & more
Of the Jamaica Tourist Board: Paul Pennicook, director of tourism & Philip Rose, regional director – Canada
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

More hotel rooms and increased north-south transportation links are setting the stage for increased tourist arrivals in Jamaica, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook.

The director paid a visit to Canadian travel trade in Toronto this week, providing updates on developments within the island’s tourism industry. PAX sat down with Pennicook and Philip Rose, the JTB’s regional director for Canada, to learn more.

The island is poised for a large influx of hotel rooms in the coming decade, including 1,200 set to open over the next year, Pennicook said; approximately 700 of those will open in Montego Bay, 230 in Trelawney and 650 in Negril, the director said. This winter, Montego Bay will see the opening of the new Riu Reggae and Spanish Court, while the Royalton Blue Waters will open in Trelawney and the Azul Sensatori debuts in Negril.

Another 2,000 rooms are set to open over the next two years, with an additional 1,800 within three years, the latter of which will be included in the first phase of the recently-announced Sugarcane by Karisma development in Runaway Bay. According to Pennicook, ground on the development will be broken in January, which will eventually see 5,000 rooms constructed across 10 hotels over the next decade.

“It’s an interesting time to be in Jamaica,” Pennicook said. “We’re going for growth and a lot more rooms are coming on stream and now we need to ensure that we get the additional airlift. That’s the plan.”

In addition to new hotel rooms, the island’s new north-south highway has significantly reduced travel times between Kingston and the resort areas along Jamaica’s north coast, paving the way for more tourist arrivals into Norman Manley International Airport.

“Despite so much lift into Montego Bay,” Pennicook said, “there are times when those flights can sell out so it’s good to know about Kingston.”

Pennicook also told PAX that the JTB is also actively courting the destination wedding group market, (particularly the growing South Asian wedding market in Canada), which he said has seen increases of 4.5 per cent in spend per guest in the first half of 2016.