Jamaica Observer

22 October 2011 - Jamaica Observer

Jamaica's Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, has described Jamaica's dominance of Wednesday's World Travel Awards Caribbean & Americas Gala Ceremony as "payback for the hard work that the country has been doing in promoting the destination and its tourism product overseas". This after Jamaica won several prestigious awards at the global event which is dubbed the 'Oscars of the travel industry'.

Speaking after Jamaica copped several top awards at the ceremony, which was held at the Sandals Royal Caribbean Hotel & Private Island in Montego Bay on October 19, 2011, Minister Bartlett said "as the leaders of the sector, we are humbled to be rewarded by the global tourism community for the energy and hard work which the team has done over the past year." He added that "the fact that the energy and the vision has resulted in Jamaica leading the Caribbean in terms of not only implementing an economic recession survival strategy, but to be earning multiple world awards, brings a sense of satisfaction."

Jamaica won the Caribbean's Leading Destination award for the sixth consecutive year, while the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) won the Caribbean's Leading Tourist Board award for the fifth consecutive year. The destination was also named the Caribbean's Leading Cruise Destination and was recognised for having the Caribbean's Leading Cruise Port (Ocho Rios), the Caribbean's Leading Beach Destination (Negril), the Caribbean's Leading Airport (Sangster International Airport), and the Caribbean's Leading Meetings & Conference Centre (Montego Bay Convention Centre, Jamaica). Jamaica also received the Caribbean Achievement Award and was also named the Caribbean's Leading Sports Tourism Destination, while the new Port of Falmouth was named the Caribbean's Leading Tourism Development Project.

Minister Bartlett expressed pleasure that local hotel mogul and Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Gordon "Butch" Stewart walked away with the Tourism Pioneer Award. In fact, Sandals won a whopping 12 awards on the night! Bartlett declared: "We are delighted that Mr Gordon 'Butch' Stewart has received this prestigious award. I believe it is well deserved as he is truly the father of luxury-inclusive in the entire Caribbean. Jamaica is very proud that a home-grown brand has now become the worldwide standard by which luxury-inclusive products are judged."

Director of Tourism John Lynch expressed that "we're honoured to be recognised as the top Caribbean destination. "These awards reaffirm that our tireless efforts to promote destination Jamaica, coupled with continued growth and refurbishment of our tourism infrastructure, have proven to be a successful strategy for the destination. We also want to congratulate our hotel partners for their stellar accomplishments as well as the aviation sector on their success. We look forward to continuing our strong relationships with our valued travel and airline partners."

In commending the local tourism entities which also won awards, Minister Bartlett emphasised that "Jamaica remains a very attractive destination and the country's performance and that of our resorts and partners at these awards have proven once again that our country will continue to see good results in terms of arrivals, guest satisfaction and indeed new developments".

Reviewing the tourism year in Jamaica, the minister of tourism said: "We in Jamaica have experienced a relatively successful year. We have also added several new features to the destination... the state-of- the-art Montego Bay Convention Centre, a spanking-new Cruise Shipping Port in Falmouth, new attractions such as Captain Hook, and Dolphin Cove-Hanover, and the list goes on and on."

Turning his attention to casino gaming on the island, Minister Barlett informed the audience: "I am pleased to announce that the regulations which are needed to give effect to casino gaming in Jamaica were passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday and will now go to the Senate for review. Already there are a number of potential bidders who could qualify for casino licences hence the potential exists for a significant increase in our room-stock."

Several of Jamaica's resorts and travel partners were also recognised including the following:

* Caribbean's Leading Adventure Excursion Operator: Dolphin Cove

* Caribbean's Leading All-Suite Hotel: Jamaica Inn

* Caribbean's Leading Boutique Hotel: Rockhouse Hotel

* Caribbean's Leading Boutique Resort: Golden Eye

* Caribbean's Leading Luxury Villa: The Fleming Villa at GoldenEye

* Caribbean's Leading Villa Resort: Round Hill Hotel & Villas

* Jamaica's Leading Boutique Hotel: Strawberry Hill, Island Outpost

* Jamaica's Leading Business Hotel: Spanish Court Hotel, Kingston

* Jamaica's Leading Car Hire: Island Car Rentals

* Jamaica's Leading Golf Resort: Half Moon, Montego Bay

* Jamaica's Leading Hotel: Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa

* Jamaica's Leading Resort: Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort

* Jamaica's Leading Spa Resort: Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa

Source: Jamaica Observer

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