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“As the host destination, we could not be more delighted by the tremendous success of this year’s [Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association] Marketplace,” said Donovan White, Jamaica’s director of tourism at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. Indeed, the floor of the Jan. 29-31 event was buzzing with more than 1,000 attendees and a lot of news.


  • Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett officially unveiled the new Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCM), based in Kingston. GTRCM is dedicated to minimizing the effects of natural disasters on the travel industry worldwide.
  • “Jamaica has had a phenomenal year, with an 8 percent growth in revenue,” reported White, pointing out that revenue growth even outdid the growth in arrivals. He added that Jamaica is reshaping itself as a destination to offer “a more far-reaching experience for people who vacation here.”
  • MBJ is updating its departure terminal and expanding the apron of the runway to facilitate larger aircraft. New kiosks have shortened processing time from 35-40 minutes to 20 minutes.
  • Excellence Oyster Bay added 315 rooms (all suites) when it opened in 2018, Skylark recently debuted in Negril, and the Miami Beach-style S Hotel just added a dollop of EP luxury to Montego Bay.
  • There are 7,500 rooms in the pipeline, of which 1,200-1,500 will open this year, including the AC Marriott (with Sandals) in Kingston and an H10 in Trelawney (500 rooms this year; later, another 500).
  • There’s new airlift, too, including daily Delta service from JFK to Kingston and Spirit Air from Detroit to Montego Bay.
  • The new tagline in the Jamaica Tourist Board’s advertisements is a marketer’s dream: One Love.

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  • Grenada Tourism Authority CEO Patricia Maher noted that in this three-island country that had welcome 330,000 visitors 2013 received almost 530,000 visitors in 2018. Furthermore, stayovers were up 10 percent for 2018 over 2017.
  • Among the hotel happenings: Silversands Grenada opened with an unprecedented chic vibe. True Blue Bay Boutique Resort made green news when it debuted 22 self-sustainable rooms. The Mount Hartman Bay Estate, ideal for group bookings, recently opened with 16 rooms; inquire about the meal plan, too. The 300-room Royalton Grenada — a serious upgrade of The Grenadian by Rex Resorts — will open in December. In 2020 Kimpton Kawana Bay Resort will debut with 92 rooms; another 120 come in 2021. That’s a lot of variety for a small, agricultural island. Meanwhile, Calabash Luxury Boutique Resort, Spice Island Beach Resort, and other properties continue to reap awards.
  • Gastronomy matters on this, the spice island. For example, Maher described the new French restaurant and chef at Secret Harbour Boutique Hotel with one word: “Wow!” The second annual Flavours of Grenada will please palates May 20-27. Grenada has five cacao farms (“You can be a farmer for a day,” said Maher), and this year it will host its fifth Chocolate Festival.
  • Other festivals that evoke Pure Grenada include the Grenada Sailing Festival Workboat Regatta (you can still see men hand-building wooden boats in Carriacou), and on the subject of Carriacou, the Shakespeare component of the Carriacou Parang Festival. The third Pure Grenada Dive Fest takes place September, and this summer’s Spice Mas was 35 percent bigger than the one in 2017.

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