BRACO, Trelawny, Jamaica – At the recent opening of Meliá Braco Village Resort in Trelawny, Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon Dr Wykeham McNeill noted that Meliá Braco represented the third hotel – new or rehabilitated – being opened in time for the current 2015/16 Winter Tourism Season, and “is a tremendous achievement for Jamaica.”
In his address, Minister McNeill stated that the Meliá Braco Village opening was taking place at a time when the country was enjoying significant growth in the tourism sector. “Arrivals are up in both cruise and stopovers; we’re expecting a good winter; the early indications for the summer are positive; demand for investment has driven a number of new projects.”
The Tourism Minister reminded the audience that a historic 17,500 passengers passed through the Sangster International Airport on December 22 last year. Of that number, 6,000 were on transfer for cruise ships that currently homeport in Jamaica. There were also 98 flights, 20 of which were long haul 300-seat planes out of Germany and the United Kingdom.
He underscored that one of the main reasons behind the government’s focus on the opening of hotels in the country was to create employment for the Jamaican people. He praised the Jamaican workforce for completing the rehabilitation of the hotel on time and within budget.
While hinting that the Meliá Braco Village would be undergoing expansion, Dr McNeill also reiterated a call he made recently for Jamaicans and Jamaican companies to get involved in investing in tourism. “I want to see Jamaicans taking advantage of the opportunities that exist in tourism to make money (and) to make a profit.” He was particularly pleased that the National Insurance Fund (NIF) which owns the property kept it in the hands of Jamaicans and expressed confidence that the management partnership with Meliá Hotels would see significant returns on investment, adding, “this will accrue to the benefit of the people of Jamaica.”
Minister McNeill also issued a call for “more local pension funds, more private sector entities – both big and small – carving out a niche for themselves in the tourism sector because it’s a very profitable industry and one which I think they should all be involved in.”
The 232-room Meliá Braco Village has shown strong support for local manufacturers with the purchase of furnishings valued at some US$500,000.00. This was facilitated by Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment’s Tourism Linkages Hub. Items included beds, bedding, pillows, pool chairs and craft items.