International Hotel Chain Plans To Open New Jamaica Hotels In 2012


During the Caribbean Marketplace event hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in the Bahamas, leading international hotel chain Choice Hotels International announced plans to expand its business in key Caribbean holiday destinations including Aruba, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States Virgin Islands.

While these markets form part of Choice Hotels' long term strategy, spokespeople for the group have stated that opening new Jamaica hotels in 2012 are part of the company's more immediate plans. Bill Clegg Regional Vice President for Brand Performance and Programs of Choice Hotels International, pegged Jamaica as one of their top five target markets in 2012 in a nod to the growing popularity of Jamaica holidays. "We are very keen on re-establishing our presence in Jamaica and driving more business to an already robust tourism destination within the region" noted Mr Clegg.

While the Choice Hotels Group is keen to launch its economy and midscale brands to offer affordable Caribbean hotels it is now most excited at the prospect of launching its luxury brand: the Ascend Collection. Choice Hotels provides the opportunity for historic, boutique or otherwise distinctive independent Jamaica hotels to be part of the of the luxury Ascend Collection brand through its membership programme. Jose Salvador Icaza, the Caribbean Franchise Development Director for Choice Hotels International stated the following of the membership programme, "Hotel members benefit from our powerful marketing and reservations systems, education and training, and are given the tools to strengthen their commitment to service excellence¦ We're excited about Ascend and hope to bring Jamaica online in the near future".

Choice Hotel's eagerness to launch in Jamaica is part of a growing trend of hotel groups seeking to gain a foothold in the Caribbean island as it continues to prove itself as one of the leading Caribbean holiday destinations. Many people anticipate that the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games will thrust the island further into the spotlight with high hopes of another dominating performance from track and field star Usain Bolt as well as other top performing Jamaican athletes.

Tourism officials in Jamaica have acknowledged the 2012 Games as a key marketing opportunity that can lead to a substantial increase in the number of people booking holidays in Jamaica. Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr. Wykeham McNeill noted that the island's sports personalities would be key in building the island's tourism brand and marketing Jamaica holidays to travellers from key international source markets.

"In 2009 you experienced the fever Bolt crated at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin. Well it's only gotten bigger because Bolt was adding to Jamaica's past Olympians and world record holders. ¦Today the list goes on and on with Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Veronica Campbell-Brown", Dr Wykeham said.

By: Susan Crown