Local tourism officials are encouraged by a commitment of at least 2,000 new residential units that are to be built by Spanish and other hoteliers to accommodate hotel workers in Jamaica in the near future.
The commitment came at a breakfast meeting which was recently held under the Inverotel umbrella, an association representing Spanish hoteliers and operators, with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and other Jamaican tourism officials, in Madrid, Spain.
Hoteliers represented included from Grand Palladium, RIU, Secrets, Iberostar, Excellence, H10, Melia and Bahia Principe.
Tourism Director Donovan White and Senior Advisor and Strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, accompanied Bartlett at the meeting.
Last year, RCD Hotels announced that in addition to constructing the 451 rooms Unico Montego Bay Hotel in St James, they intend to also build some 1,000 housing units for hotel workers.
“Through Spanish hoteliers and other hotel investors combined, we are now seeing firm commitments for at least 2,000 new residential units for hotel workers and their immediate families. This is essential, as given the growth trajectory, with thousands of new hotel rooms under construction, we do have a serious and worsening shortage of appropriate housing for tourism workers,” said Bartlett in a release from the ministry.
“The hoteliers have recognised this, and know too that they cannot operate at an optimal level if workers do not have comfortable living arrangements or are too far away from their properties,” he added.
Seiveright also welcomed the development.
“We’re very happy about that they have recognised the need and they are now responding, and as part of the development and expansion projects that a number of hotels and resorts will be engaging in, they will be adding housing for workers and their immediate families to assist in addressing some of those issues,” he said.
The hotel and resort owners, who also expressed concerns about traffic congestion on some of the roadways, were, however, said to be encouraged at news that several road infrastructure projects are already, or near beginning stages, and are expected to help alleviate traffic congestion issues.
The applicable projects include the US$274.5 million Montego Bay Perimeter Road Project, a bypass project, which involves the construction of 25 kilometres of roadway; and the finalisation of a US$800 million agreement with the International Finance Corporation to develop a new four-lane highway from Rose Hall in Montego Bay, St James to Mammee Bay, St Ann. The new four-lane highway is expected to, upon completion, bypass congestion-prone spots at Priory, Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay in St Ann.
“Another big area of concern, of course, is a the parish of Hanover: the congestion in the Hopewell and Lucea areas; and we highlighted to them that bypass projects are being planned for Hopewell and Lucea to assist in alleviating the congestion in that area, which will become worse with 4 000 new rooms that are already under construction or will be under construction in short order,” said Seiveright.