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Mexicans Investing Millions Into Jamaica

Mexicans Investing Millions Into Jamaica
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (second left) greets Palace Resorts' owner Jose Churpo ( left) on his arrival at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande official opening on December 2. Looking on from right are: Tourism and Entertainment Minister, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill and Executive Vice President of Palace Resorts, Gibran Churpo.

KINGSTON (JIS) -- Tourism interests from Mexico have been eyeing Jamaica as a great place to do business, investing millions of dollars into the economy and employing scores of Jamaicans. In 2015 alone, a number of investments have either been completed or are currently being negotiated. Some of the investments include: the purchase of the Sangster International Airport by the Mexican Pacific Group Gap; the US$200 million investment in the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande Resort by the Chapur family of the Mexico based Palace Resorts fame, and the purchase of Dolphin Cove by the Mexican company, Dolphin Discovery.

This also falls in line with the recent news that Karisma Hotels and Resorts will be investing more than US$900 million in a hotel project in St Ann that will, over a decade, add 4,000 new rooms to Jamaica’s tourism sector and provide at least 8,000 direct jobs.

Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Business Development at Karisma Hotel and Resorts,  Ruben Becerra, said his company’s decision to increase its investment in the island, was driven by the fact that Jamaica is one of the three fastest-growing tourism destinations in the Caribbean.

“The three fastest-growing destinations in the Caribbean are Cancun, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. People view these destinations as very safe…. Jamaica, already enjoys a good reputation…and the demand is there,” Mr. Becerra said.

The 228 acre Llandovery beachfront property in St. Ann will be the site for this massive development.

He expects that ground will be broken on the first property in time for it to be opened in November 2018.

Karisma, already operates 25 hotels worldwide, one of which is the 138-suite Sensatori Jamaica in Negril. The resort company is now expanding the property with an additional 149 suites.

“We are extremely excited to continue working and growing alongside the people of Jamaica, and we remain committed to further enhancing the already great tourism industry here,” Becerra added.

The ‘Mexican invasion’, as some people have dubbed it, follows the over 15 years of virtual dominance by the Spanish hoteliers, who presently control the stopover market in Jamaica in terms of room occupancy.

The Spanish properties include: RIU, with three properties (one each in Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios); Bahia Principe in Discovery Bay, St. Ann; Iberostar in Rosehall, St. James; and Grand Palladium in Hanover.

For her part, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, described Mexico as a great trading partner and a reliable friend of Jamaica.

She noted that the direct foreign investment coming in from that country was not a coincidence, adding that Jamaica is now being viewed as a preferred destination and “the most beautiful island in the Caribbean.”

“The level of commitment we are seeing from these foreign investors only goes to show how Jamaica is being perceived globally,” the Prime Minister said, while addressing tourism interests and stakeholders in Ocho Rios recently.

“As a Government, we are happy to create and nurture the kind of business environment that encourages direct foreign investment such as what the Chapur family is doing here in Ocho Rios,” she added.

Palace Resorts’ owner Jose Chapur has recently added Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, Ocho Rios to his Mexico based franchise, marking the first time the family owned business was venturing outside that country.

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill told JIS news that he was pleased to see the number of locals being employed by these foreign owned companies, adding that Moon Palace had brought a lot of its Jamaican employees to Mexico to get them familiar with the brand.

“I was really elated when I heard that Moon Palace had retained a majority of the staff from the previous ownership. It is often said that Jamaica’s greatest asset is its people and we all know that once they are given the chance, our people will provide that quality service that is second to none,” Dr. McNeill said.

Meanwhile, CEO of Dolphin Discovery, Eduardo Albo, said his company’s recent purchase of Dolphin Cove will bring to 24, the number of dolphin facilities they have worldwide.

“We chose Jamaica because this is a very unique country with a very rich history. We have nine of these dolphin facilities in Mexico, but we have always been keeping a keen eye on Jamaica. We believe the timing is right, considering the kind of expansions we see taking place. We want to be a part of this boom and we are happy to be here,” Mr. Albo stated.

Former owner of Dolphin Cove, Stafford Burrowes, said the swimming with the dolphins phenomenon has grown in leaps and bounds worldwide and Jamaica’s tourism will be better for what the Mexican company will be bringing to the table.

“They will be able to do all the things I could only dream about. I am very happy and optimistic about the future of Jamaica’s tourism and the advent of these Mexican companies is only the beginning,” Mr. Burrowes said.