Expansion in Jamaica

3 min reading time

Published on 13/05/19 - Updated on 17/03/22

Montego bay

The destination in the Caribbean will see its supply grow over the next five years. The Jamaican government has announced 12,000 new rooms for 2024. This program involves a global investment of more than 1.5 billion dollars (1.34 billion euros). The leading major brands are H10 Hotels and Princess Hotels & Resorts, which alone represent almost half, or 660 million euros in investments.

Princess Hotels & Resorts foresees the creation of a 2,000-room complex for 500 million dollars (446 million euros). H10 will open two hotels at one site for 250 million dollars (223 million euros). This all-inclusive 5-star complex of 1,000 rooms has been presented as the first tourist resort on the island.

Other groups are also expected, such as Amaterra which will open one of the biggest resorts with 5,000 rooms, of which 1,200 are already in the pipeline. In addition the group Hard Rock will open 1,100 rooms in Montego Bay, where 120 rooms are already open at the "S" hotel. Finally, the capital is waiting for the arrival of the AC Hotel by Marriott Kingston (220 rooms) as well as a Wyndham property (250 rooms).

This growth is all the more surprising as it takes place within a context of a state of emergency, decreed since April 30 last year as per the reminder from France Diplomatie. The regions of St James (including Montego Bay), Hanover and Westmoreland are reported to be experiencing an increase in violence. These zones, particularly Montego Bay, are especially touristic, as are several resorts that are already located there or are planning to do so.

The destination nonetheless continues to attract despite this repeated alert, even as new investors continue to flock. Jamaican tourism is therefore experiencing real growth on a global scale. The annual report from the Ministry of Tourism shows a dramatic increase in international arrivals by 11.4% over the year 2017. In the same year, the country recorded $3 billion in tourism revenues, representing 19% of the national GDP. Another surprise, the initial delivery plan for 5,000 rooms over the next 5 years has already been completed.

The long-term objective is to boost the arrival of international tourists to 5 million, compared to 2.35 million in 2018, including 7,000 French tourists, who should reach 50,000 if forecasts are borne out. But as Myrtha Désulmé points out, with cruise tourists, the figure rises to more than 4.2 million. This specialist in the Haitian cause explains that the destination has succeeded where the neighboring island of Haiti still has difficulties, although the latter would be considered less dangerous by the authorities. Indeed, not so long ago (2005) Jamaica set world records in terms of crime (60 murders per 100,000 people). Today, the island has been recognized for its reggae heritage, which has just been classified as UNESCO world heritage, in particular for its "contribution to the international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity". As a result, the future of a destination is never fully defined: it just received the 14th place in the 2019 TripAdvisor ranking. A beautiful message of hope for those who are still struggling to get back on track from the economic and political crises.

Jamaica's rise is part of broader development in the Caribbean region. First of all, Cuba, following its policy of openness, which began in 2014, had a plan in place two years later to develop its hotel portfolio with the objective of 103,000 additional rooms by 2030. Large groups such as Starwood, Iberostar (Hotel Prado y Malecón, 218 rooms), AccorHotels (Hotel Packard, 246 rooms) and Kempinski have established themselves in Cuba, with the latter inaugurating the capital's first luxury hotel (246 rooms). In line with this dynamic, Melia Hotels International announced more than 2,000 new rooms in Cuba by the end of 2018. On a larger scale, the Dominican Republic is a much more mature and established destination in the region with 6.5 million international arrivals, with 26%, or 221,058, in the French market alone. The country has already built a beautiful supply of hotels and resorts, with the island targeting 10 million tourists by 2022. In the French West Indies, Martinique recorded a record year in 2018 with 1.05 million visitors. A key sector of Guadeloupe's economy, tourism continues to grow reaching 650,000 tourists in 2017, corresponding to strong growth by 12% compared to the previous year. The destination is mainly based on cruise activity, with no fewer than 400,000 arrivals. The French West Indies are therefore the target of new investments, such as the arrival of a new Accor Fairmont Hotels & Resorts property (120 rooms and suites) that will open this year.

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