Ground has been broken for the Chinese government-funded construction of a convention centre in Jamaica’s tourism mecca of Montego Bay, which when completed should be a fillip to the island’s important foreign exchange earning sector.
“For Jamaica it is a significant development. For tourism stakeholders, a dream come true,” Prime Minister Bruce Golding said in his address at the official ground breaking ceremony at Rose Hall, Saturday. He said the centre will be a strategic addition to Jamaica ’s tourism product and infrastructure.
Golding said the Convention Centre is a long needed facility and noted that Jamaica , and Montego Bay in particular, have strong market appeal in the leisure market.
With the recent addition of 2,500 rooms, Montego Bay now offers a total of 15,000 rooms, of which 5,000 are located in the Rose Hall corridor. However, Golding noted that the island has been unable to capitalize on convention business as it lacked the facilities. This situation he noted, would be remedied with the completion of this project in the next 20-months. Golding expressed appreciation to the government of China for making the project possible.
In his address China’s Vice President Xi Jinping congratulated the government of Jamaica on the project. He described his visit to Jamaica at the invitation of the government as a very successful one noting that it would contribute to the further strengthening of relations and economic co-operation between the two countries.
The government of China, he said intends to build further relations and to provide economic and social partnerships with Jamaica, and other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America .
Tourism minister, Ed Bartlett said the Convention Centre will be part of the critical infrastructure necessary to facilitate repositioning Jamaica as an events destination in the global tourism market.
“Already several organizations are lining up to take advantage of this facility which cannot be completed too soon. We welcome the new business opportunities that this development will bring and we acknowledge the cordial relations we share with China,” Bartlett noted.
Agreement for the construction of the Montego Bay Convention Centre was initiated back in 2005 by the then prime minister P.J. Patterson. The project is to be funded by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China under an agreement signed in 2007.
Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over the next 20-months. The Centre is situated on 9.3 hectares of land in Rose Hall, St James, adjacent to the Rose Hall Great House attraction. The project will provide convention facilities inclusive of meeting rooms, banquet halls and exhibition space for the western end of the island.
Caption: Minister of Transport and Works, the Hon. Mike Henry, introduces Minister of Housing and Water, Dr. Horace Chang, to visiting Vice President of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping, on his arrival at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on Friday(feb 14). Looking on from left are Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair Jr., and Dr. Chang’s cabinet colleagues and fellow St.James MPs: Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Energy, the Hon. Clive Mullings. (JIS Photo)