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Friday,  April 12, 2024 9:05 PM 

Villas pave way for creation of “The Jamaican Riviera”

Villas pave way for creation of “The Jamaican Riviera”
Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, spoke at the opening of Bengal Cove Villas in Discovery Bay over the weekend. (CTO)
Pax Global Media

Jamaica's hotel room-stock is set to grow by 20,000 over the next five to ten years, says the country’s Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, who is welcoming the resurgence of villa developments. 

Mr. Bartlett made a keynote address at the opening of the $1.3 billion Bengal Cove Villas development in Discovery Bay over the weekend, according to a press release.

Crediting the COVID-19 pandemic for bringing about a revival in villas for visitor accommodation, Mr. Bartlett said “Jamaica is now leading the way in providing new and exciting villa experiences for tourists across the region.”

He told directors that he was proud of what they were doing and that “I have more of these types of properties to open along this coast all the way to St Mary.”

Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett (3rd left) cuts a blue ribbon signalling the official opening of the $1.3 billion Bengal Cove Villas in Discovery Bay, St Ann on Saturday, March 18, 2023. He spoke of a resurgence in villa accommodation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The official party includes (from left): Directors Ian Kelly, Andrew Fogarty, Richard Palmer, Mayor of St Ann's Bay, Councillor Sydney Stewart, Councillor for Discovery Bay and the Dry Harbour Division, Carlton Ricketts and Director Jerome Smalling. (CTO)

Dubbing the north-eastern coastal region development as “the Jamaican Riviera,” Bartlett said discussions were underway “with some other people who are coming up with some other programmes for places like Robin’s Bay and Oracabessa and we’re going to be encouraging more and more Jamaicans to participate in this very important sub-sector of the industry.”

The Minister told the directors of Bengal Cove Villas that they were part of a growing segment of the accommodation sub-sector in Jamaica, citing that last year 29 per cent of the approximately three million stopover visitors that came to Jamaica were in what he termed “the shared economy” pioneered by entities like Airbnb.

He also underscored the democratization of the accommodation sub-sector and that a large group of people with varied size homes, apartments and villas “are now inserted in the tourism value chain, broadening therefore the range of participants in the industry, but more importantly providing slices of the pie for a larger number of Jamaican people.”

In a word of advice to persons venting concerns, he implored them to band together to reap greater rewards from the industry.

An important phase

Regarding hotel room-stock, Minister Bartlett said Jamaica was entered an important phase in its development as a country in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) “and right now on the cards, 20,000 new hotel rooms are to be built in Jamaica over the next five to ten years.”

He expressed concerns, however, at approvals taking long periods to be finalized and underscored that “we need to develop that efficiency in construction that allows for us to start and complete projects in a time frame that allows for a fiscal cycle that is manageable.”

While stating that the rules must be adhered to, he said central to this was the development orders, requirements for the administrative arrangements and the applications when they come in, “but more importantly we have to be more pointed in terms of the requirements to fulfil what is needed to enable fast approval.”

The Minister also implored those persons who he said might be a little anxious “and perhaps even a little disingenuous in terms of their comments about how things are going, to realize that the achievements of Jamaica and the growth that we have enabled did not come without some disruptions, and human capital disruptions is part of it.”

In this regard, he pointed to the global tourism and travel industry losing seven million workers during the pandemic and the difficulty being faced in getting them back.

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