Opposition Spokesman on Tourism & Travel Services Development, Mr. Edmund Bartlett, is today expressing regret at news of the imminent closure and loss of over 400 jobs at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
Mr. Bartlett described the impending closure as a body blow to Jamaica’s tourism sector, as the Ritz Carlton remained the only internationally acclaimed high-end brand on the island. The implications for our appeal as a destination to the high-yielding demographics in the marketplace is of tremendous concern, as we are yet to determine whether the entity that will replace the Ritz will fit the profile and be of equal stature.
Mr. Bartlett, who is Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, where the property is situated, went on to question the fate of the over 400 workers employed to the Hotel. The Opposition Spokesman is calling on the Government, who are part owners in the entity, to clarify the situation and indicate what protection is being given to the workers, many of whom have spent all their adult life in the employ of the Ritz.
The departure of the Ritz Carlton, Mr. Bartlett lamented, coupled with the failure of the Palmyra development is a double whammy for the prospects of the Elegant Corridor fulfilling its promise of being the high-end destination of Jamaica.
“It is imperative that the Minister of tourism moves quickly to dispel the pale of doubt hovering over destination Jamaica at this time, following a disturbing 5% decline in both earnings and arrivals in the just concluded winter-tourist season, the withdrawal of one of the pioneers of the all-inclusive model and a highly respected hotelier in the global marketplace, as well as Jamaica’s apparent inability to attract investments at the higher-end of the market”, Mr. Bartlett outlined. Nothing short of a clear and convincing strategy to reposition the industry and restore full confidence across the sector and throughout the marketplace is required at this time, he added.