Opposition Spokesman on Tourism & Travel Services Development, Mr. Edmund Bartlett, is today raising fresh concerns regarding the impending closure and sale the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
Argued Bartlett: “It is disturbing that since the announcement virtually a week ago, neither the current owners nor the purchasers have issued statements in relation to the proposed takeover. And as a result, the public, which has a vested interest in the matter based on the government’s 15% stake in the entity, has had no clarification or official position from the players involved as to what exactly is happening.
“In the absence of any definitive word, the country is no closer to an understanding of:
a) the nature of the arrangement between Rose Hall Resorts Ltd. and Playa;
b). the terms of the sales agreement;
c). the project’s prospects and future.”
Mr. Bartlett outlined that given heightened speculation as to whether the Ritz’s replacement will adopt the all-inclusive model or incorporate the European Plan (EP), managed by either a Playa affiliate or Hyatt, it is extremely important that full disclosure and clarity regarding this imminent development be forthcoming at this time.
“The all-inclusive model as per Playa and the European Plan as per Hyatt are two divergent operational approaches. Those who are quick to welcome the proposed takeover would be cautioned to have a level of certainty in their own mind as to what exactly they are welcoming.”
The opposition spokesman went on to posit that the impending takeover goes to the heart of stability in the tourism sector, and argued that the current hush of silence will do nothing to temper widespread anxiety, allay workers’ concerns, or send appropriate signals to the investor community and the travel market as a whole.
“The tax-paying public must be able to discern what the Hotel’s future will be, glean meaningful information as to how the government’s 15% stake is to be disposed of, and must be made aware of. how the over 400 men and women currently in the Hotel’s employ will fare in all of this”, he opined.
Mr. Bartlett, who serves as Member of Parliament for the area where the Ritz Carlton Hotel is situated, indicates that in light of his obligations and vested interest as MP, he is not just compelled but duty-bound to have the issues raised, properly ventilated and adequately addressed. He stated in closing, that the interests of the workers, many of whom reside in his East Central St. James constituency, as well as the implications of the Ritz’s closure/takeover for Montego Bay’s Elegant Corridor, must be upper-most in the minds of well-thinking Jamaicans at this time.