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McMorris

Hotel construction hits seven-year high

Michael McMorris, CEO of Kronos Investment & Development Consultants, says that project momentum for new hotel-room construction and refurbishment is building to a seven-year high.

Arising from his participation on the Caribbean Tourism Investment Outlook panel at the recent Jamaica Investment Forum in Rose Hall, Montego Bay, McMorris says that a tabulation of projects suggests that approximately 860 new rooms are currently in the final planning, permitting or construction phases and will come on line between 2015 and 2016.

"The number is over 1,000 if you include the Hyatt, which completed 200 new rooms in December/ January 2015," said McMorris in a media release.

He noted that refurbishing construction will upgrade, refresh and reintroduce at least 1,170 rooms at some point in the same time period (1,600, if Hyatt is included).

"Refurbishment should not be underestimated as a critical driver for attracting new consumers and maintaining the momentum," he stated.

According to the tourism consultant, Kronos' research with the help of JAMPRO, Jamaica's investment promotion agency, while not an exact accounting, was consistent with the findings of the members of the Caribbean Outlook Panel. The panel included senior representatives from Smith Travel Research, the leading global tourism analytics provider; attraction operators Chukka; and Playa Hotels & Resorts, regional hotel owner/operators of Jamaica's new Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara.

"Hard statistics as well as the on-the-ground experience of some of the most successful regional players across disciplines indicate that the recent performance and outlook indicators for Jamaica's hospitality is green across the board, with record levels being set for national average occupancy percentages and the rate of increase in the average daily rate in 2014."

This, he said, translates into a further green-light upstream for investment from industry players who are already in Jamaica or who have been eyeing Jamaica's competitiveness against other destinations in the region.

He urged tourism stakeholders to guard the success of these projects jealously, as outcomes will either accelerate or derail the momentum.

"As in the pre-recession years of this century, we have a chance to resume serious growth in the hospitality sector, which can be a massive driver of the construction industry, both at the grassroots and professional levels; also of new permanent employment in the hospitality industry itself, new housing demand, while expanding the demand for goods and services," he noted.

He pointed out that what is required is for the relevant government agencies and private sector players to be acutely responsive and forward-thinking about developments.

"Keep abreast of the pipeline and plan for the demand at the permitting and monitoring levels so you avoid missteps and missed opportunities," he warned. 

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