The Business Year

Jamaica's tourism potential is a no-brainer but the government and initiatives under its umbrella are leaving no stone unturned to further cement the country's place on the global tourism map.

Karron Benjamin

Assistant General Manager/Director, Operations, Montego Bay Convention Centre (MBCC)

The main advantage of the convention center is its contribution to the economy, both direct and indirect. We are able to attract conventions or large events based on our infrastructure, as we are the largest conference facility in the English-speaking Caribbean. Furthermore, we have seen an increase in the number of rooms required for international and regional events. Other areas such as excursions and the nightlife in Montego Bay have also benefited significantly from the regional, international, and local visitors that the convention center has garnered. Another significant impact is the level of investment in inventory and technology, especially in audiovisual equipment, that has been done by local suppliers to meet the requirements for international meetings. In order to be the epicenter of international spaces and attract FDI, we look at our mission, which is to create a five-star experience in a world-class facility to offer growth and prosperity. We also work closely with all stakeholders to ensure each entity is improving and keeping abreast of new developments in the industry. Another key element is our management company, SMG Worldwide, through which we can connect with some of the leading international event planners and corporations. One of our visions for 2019 is to become a center that provides training; human resource investment is one of the things we are looking at. Our goal is for the convention center to further develop and continue to impact positively on the economy.

Gloria Henry

Assistant Vice President Operations & Customer Relations, Montego Bay Free Zone Company Limited (MBFZ)

In 2018, we saw more development taking place in Montego Freeport for business process outsourcing. We opened a new building in Montego Bay Free Zone, expanding it by 10%. We have also converted some of our traditional manufacturing-type space to support the growing BPO sector. At present, there are 10,000 employees in the free zone, and the BPO sector is experiencing growth outside the free zone as well, for example, within other private developments. The BPO sector is our main focus in the free zone, making up 96% of our employment and providing 98% of our revenues. As we look to move up the value chain of services provided, we look at expanding our services in other areas, including IT outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing. We work closely with the Business Processing Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) to grow the business and diversify the portfolio of services. Regarding digitalization, we already have some digital companies present in the free zone and we want to work with them to develop tools that can help us in managing resources and providing better services. Montego Free Zone is extremely important for the economy as in 2017 alone, total wages and salaries amounted to over JMD12.8 billion. We are employing the surrounding communities of Hanover and Westmoreland, and many of the brands in the free zone have since expanded to other locations to support other areas of the island.

Rafael Echevarne

CEO, Rafael Echevarne

We have completed a number of important infrastructure projects. The most important one being the renovation of taxiways and aprons, which is where aircrafts are parked. It is a multi-million-dollar project and we are in the last phase. Similarly, we have started renovating the ticketing hall and it will be completed by end-2018. Regarding growth, as of November 2018, we recorded a 6.07% YoY growth in passenger traffic. In terms of our regional split, the US represents 70%, Canada 16%, while the UK and the rest of Europe make up 12%. Most of the major airlines are growing their activity. The most exciting development is our first flight from Moscow in 2018; after years of no flights, we are welcoming back non-stop flights from Moscow. Similarly, we are excited about the potential of Latin America and are in discussions with interested airlines in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile. In Europe, France is one market that has great future potential. Air France recently unveiled a new low-cost, long-haul carrier called Joon for flights to Latin America. We are extremely interested in exploring possibilities with such airlines and are in discussions with Edelweiss Air from Switzerland. Sangster Airport is an essential part of the social and economic development of the country, evident from the fact that more than 80% of the tourists enter Jamaica through it. 2019 will be an exciting year because we will continue growing the airport’s infrastructure.



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