Hotel official urges support for smaller hotels

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica: Now is the time to strengthen the Jamaican and Caribbean hotel sector by going global and by building up mid-size properties, an international hospitality executive told a conference here this week.

Speaking at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference, Brian Parker of Choice Hotels International acknowledged the attention paid to upscale hotels and all-inclusive resorts but said that “we have to enhance the industry’s resilience by ensuring more focused assistance be given to properties offering mid-scale lodging throughout Jamaica and the region”.

Parker, Vice President of Emerging Markets and New Business Development of Choice Hotels International, said it is wise to strengthen the hotel industry by increased focus on promoting Caribbean properties directly to international travelers attracted to proven brands.

“We want to work with the local hotel ownership community to determine if securing a global hotel brand/membership affiliation can enhance their hotels’ performance.”

The majority of travelers now book accommodation though the Internet but, he said, “the multiplicity of choices on the Internet means people will be looking for trusted global hotel brands – so if you’re not associated with a global brand, you may be losing business.

“Jamaica is one of our top target markets in the Caribbean….We are committed to having a multi-brand presence on the island in Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, and/or Kingston.”

Parker said that Choice Hotels is “working with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the Jamaica Tourist Board and JAMPRO to enhance Jamaica’s overall tourism product by offering quality, premium and branded mid-scale lodging accommodations.”

He added that, through its Ascend Collection membership program, Choice Hotels also offers travelers upscale lodging options at historic, boutique and unique hotels.

“We are a versatile company and see ourselves as great partners in an equally dynamic and versatile Caribbean region,” he said.

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