Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Ground to be broken for island’s first casino hotel

Published:Monday | August 12, 2019 | 12:20 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica’s venture into the gaming sector is now official, following news that the world-famous Hard Rock Café and Hotel will be setting up shop in Rose Hall, St James, with a total of 1,700 rooms.

According to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, ground could be broken by the end of the year, next door the Iberostar Resorts, to facilitate what would be a feather in the cap for the island’s booming tourism sector and also put the country within reach of the lofty goal of having some 15,000 hotel rooms over the next five years .

“Following months of discussions at the highest level, we can say for sure that the Unico brand, which has the franchise for Hard Rock Hotel, will be building a ­single integrated resort which would be the Hard Rock Casino, the Hard Rock Hotel and the Unico Hotel brand,” the minister noted.

Bartlett, in pointing out the significance of the investment, said not only will thousands of jobs be generated, but also, it will firmly cement Jamaica as the number one high-end market in the region.

“The elegant corridors of Rose Hall will only get brighter with this world-class arrival,” the minister added. “The high-end market is a very lucrative and important one which we have made some inroads in over the past few years.”

Bartlett also revealed that he would be going overseas in the coming days, where he will be meeting with investors to fast-track discussions on a project to build a high-end shopping mall in Montego Bay, St James.

“I will have a lot more to say on that very soon,” the tourism minister promised.

Bartlett, in the meantime, noted that Jamaica’s arrival figures ­continue to reach stratospheric heights, adding that “we are already seeing the five million arrivals on the horizon, and so six million ... should be coming into view soon.”

“So far this year, we’re looking at just about two million arrivals with earnings for last month, showing a 12.7 per cent increase at US$2 billion,” he added.

RECORD ARRIVALS

“In fact, arrival figures for July show that an estimated 250,584 visitors arrived in the island, the highest number the country has ever seen for the summer month.”

Bartlett was speaking on Friday in Rhyne Park, St James, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Rhyne Park Estate Housing Development, where 754 units are to be built primarily to benefit workers in the tourism industry.

According to the minister, the project will be executed with a development budget of $8.4 billion.

It is being undertaken through a joint-venture agreement between the Housing Agency of Jamaica and the China-based Henan Fifth Construction Group.

Under the project, 100 one-­bedroom apartment units will be provided at a cost of $7.9 million; 60 two-bedroom apartments at $12.3 million; 426 two-bedroom, one-bathroom single-­family homes for $12.4 million; 122 two-bedrooms, one-and-a-half bathroom town houses for $14.5 million; and 46 three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom town houses for $18.5 million.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave the keynote address.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com