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Support for small Jamaica hotels still going strong

  • 12-Mar-10 12:58
  • Jamaica
  • Holiday Industry

The support the Jamaican government and the Ministry of Tourism have been giving to small Jamaica hotels since the effects of the recession started causing havoc for this niche industry in 2008, is still going strong with a strong backing from government

Support for small Jamaica hotels still going strong

Representing a third or just under 10,000 of Jamaica's hotels, the small hotels in Jamaica are strong contenders in the Jamaica holidays market in terms of room stock. And despite the all inclusive concept gaining popularity and spreading across Jamaica resorts, small Jamaica hotels and boutique properties have contributed significantly to the growth of Jamaica holidays and the island’s hospitality sector over many years.

“They represent the entrepreneurial spirit of many Jamaicans” - President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Wayne Cummings told JIS News – “and they must receive continuous support. They may not necessarily have the resources to be innovative, but they employ a lot of people, they are in a lot of places and they are truly representative of what Jamaica is" he said.

Cummings explained that small hotels in Jamaica have taken a beating from the global economic recession, as when it comes to recession-hit travellers looking for cheaper Jamaica holidays they are naturally less competitive due to their higher operational costs. - "It's been quite difficult. There have been some successes, however. There are some properties that have found their niche on the Internet as well as in specific marketplaces - case in point are some of the hotels on the west end of Negril."

Added to overheads is the fact that occupancy on average for small Jamaica hotels have overall been far less than for the larger hotel category. "If the national average was about 62 % in 2009, I would say that they did closer to 45 %, which in many instances does not necessarily equate to breaking even" Cummings informs.

Many of these small hotels in Jamaica are run by families who heavily depend on their performance, so if you want to feel good in the know that you’re supporting locals during your Jamaica holidays, a stay at one of the smaller hotels in Jamaica can be a truly rewarding experience.

Cummings pointed out however that the profile of visitors to small properties during their Jamaica holidays vary greatly, and include an interesting mix of people, such as the budget conscious, and those who are looking for a more intimate holiday experience, but do not necessarily have less of a disposable income.

The support and assistance provided by the Government has proven to be critical as it played an important part in keeping small properties viable, with the strengthening of the regulatory framework. In July 2008, under the 'Spruce Up Jamaica Entrepreneurial Fund', the govenrment assigned a maximum of $3 million available to each property and repayable over 60 months. Announcing the Fund, Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, said that the initiative was to ensure that communities as well as small and medium enterprises within the tourism industry serving Jamaica holidays are given an opportunity for development, and for them to play their part in driving job creation as well as providing the income flows for communities and the general economy.

By July 2009, Minister Bartlett announced that the stimulus package had enabled the provision of cash flow support of $634 million to the sector, to sustain jobs and maintain growth. Another $100 million has been set aside for this fund.

"It is a time of re-examination of the way business is done. There is going to be a need for partnership - private and public sector," Neita observes. He says that in devising policies that will drive this vital sector, the crime situation must be tackled. The Executive Director emphasises that small hotels have a place in the Jamaica holidays industry, as they generate employment, and provide a unique product that visitors like. "We intend to support that," he assured.

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