Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says three local Spanish hotel investors have committed to constructing an overall 2,000 residential units for industry employees.
This includes apartments and houses for the workers and their immediate families.
The tourism minister named only one of three companies that made the commitment after a breakfast meeting in Madrid Spain last Friday.
“RCD Hotels, known across the globe as the brand that brought the first all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels and Hard Rock golf courses to life, was the first out of the blocks late last year with plans to build hundreds of residential units for hotel workers. as part of their broader development to build close to 2,000 rooms across several hotel brands, including Unico and Hard Rock along the Rose Hall corridor in Montego Bay,” he said in a media statement on Sunday.
Two major Spanish-owned hotel companies have also committed to expansive worker housing developments, he added.
“This is essential, as given the growth trajectory, with thousands of new hotel rooms under construction, we do have a serious and worsening shortage of appropriate housing for tourism workers,” Bartlett said, adding that hoteliers have recognized the importance of comfortable, nearby living arrangements for employees.
Owners represented at the meeting included Grand Palladium, RIU, Secrets, Iberostar, Excellence, H10, Melia and Bahia Principe. Jamaica Tourist Board head, Donovan White, and senior adviser and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, anchored with Bartlett.
The news comes in the wake of a wave of renovations and new hotel and resort projects which are at varying stages of development.
More than 10,000 new hotel rooms are set to come on stream in the next few years, bringing into sharp focus the need to expand capacity which will redound to greater economic growth and demand for thousands of new workers.
Bartlett stated that hotel workers needed to feel valued.
“This is very important because too many workers in the industry, over time, have not benefited as much as they should. They are the cornerstone of the sector,” the minister said.
“We must, as Government and private sector, build the capacity of the workers to lift the quality of the service they offer, their standard of living, and their quality of life so that the benefits of tourism are felt by them as well.”
The news also comes at a time when Palladium Hotel Group, which operates two hotels in Point, Hanover, has announced annual revenues of 948 million euros (113 per cent) more revenue, exceeding pre-pandemic business volume by 26 per cent.
In 2023, the company expects to exceed, for the first time in its history, 1 billion euros of managed turnover in a year of moderate growth.
Last weekend, the company announced that it had carried out extensive remodeling of its Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort and Spa, under a 160-million-euro refurbishment and renovation exercise of its properties worldwide.
Meanwhile, Bartlett has noted that the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies have taken a holistic approach to the human capital development of tourism workers with thousands already certified by the Jamaica Center of Tourism Innovation.
Many workers benefit from housing development projects, primarily in conjunction with the Housing Agency of Jamaica, and the now-growing Tourism Workers Pension Scheme, which is on track to reach 10,000 members during the current winter season, generating more than $350 million in savings.