KINGSTON, April 27 (JIS):                          BY: ELAINE HARTMAN RECKORD

Members of the Diaspora and Jamaicans at home will gather at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James, from June 13 to 18, to participate in the sixth staging of the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference.

Activities will include a business and cultural exposition, a range of meetings to address investment opportunities and social activities, culminating with a Diaspora Day of Service.


Braco Reopening and Expansion

BRACO, Trelawny: April 26, 2015:

As ongoing investment in the tourist industry continues to fuel the country’s economic development, hundreds of additional hotel rooms and jobs are being added to the sector. This trend is set to continue as the 225-room government owned Braco Village, is slated to reopen for the 2015/16 winter tourist season as the Meliá Braco Village.

A ground-breaking ceremony at the Trelawny property on the weekend, signalled the start of a comprehensive renovation project ahead of the hotel’s grand re-opening as part of the Meliá Hotels & Resorts’ brand all inclusive portfolio.

Continue reading Braco Reopening and Expansion


MONTEGO BAY, April 26 (JIS):

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier has reiterated the Government’s stance on the issuing of work permits to foreigners to work in Jamaica.

Addressing a ground breaking event for the launch of the Melia Braco Village in Trelawny on April 24, Minister Kellier said the Government will be unrelenting in its efforts to ensure that work permits will be issued based on the guidelines that governs the system.

He said in issuing work permits to foreigners, priority will be given to the protection of Jamaican workers and will only be issued in cases where they are absolutely necessary.

Derrick Kellier

“The Ministry administers a rigorous work permit regime with priority given to the protection of employment of Jamaican workers. But I venture to say that when gaps arise in the availability of local skills for foreign investment initiatives, if we are not to frustrate the progress of these projects then such skill gaps will have to be filled by workers from elsewhere,” Minister Kellier said.

He noted further that the Government recognizes that the best way to ensure Jamaican workers are given priority treatment during the employment of workers is to create the necessary platforms for high level training for these workers.

He added that his Ministry is in dialogue, with a number of training agencies with a view of ensuring that Jamaican workers receive the highest level training which will ensure that they are equipped for employment.

“We are also working closely with HEART/NTA and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) to identify the skills that are needed and to train our workforce…ready for employment in investment projects,” Mr. Kellier said.


Meanwhile, on the matter of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Workers Passport initiative, Minister Kellier is encouraging the Management of the Melia Braco Village to work with the Ministry in using the construction site as a pilot for that project.

Minister Kellier in admitting that the legislation to implement the workers passport is yet to be passed in Parliament said the Melia Braco Village site would be a good place to start.

“These passports will be the first step in guaranteeing that workers are competent and equipped to operate safely on work sites in both international and local markets. And while I know that this initiative is still in the early stages of development and the legislation is pending….our team will be working assiduously with Melia to explore the possibility in incorporating the workers passport as a pilot on this Braco site by the contractors,” he stated.

Under a 15 year lease management agreement with the Government through the National Insurance Fund, Melia Resorts, a Spanish-based company will be operating the former Braco Village Resort in Trelawny.

The resort will become known as the Melia Braco Village with 250 new rooms being added to the existing 225. The property is scheduled for opening in December 2015.

Spanish Hotel chain Melia sets up shop in Jamaica

MONTEGO BAY, April 25 (JIS):

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill has welcomed the entry into the Jamaica’s tourism market, the largest Spanish hotel chain, Melia Hotels and Resorts.

The company has signed a 15 year lease agreement with the Government, through the National Insurance Fund, which owns the property, to manage the former Braco Village Resort in Trelawny.

It will be known as the Melia Braco Village when it reopens in December of this year.

Speaking at a groundbreaking event for the launch of the resort at Braco on Friday April 24, Minister McNeill said Melia’s entry into the island is a show of confidence in Jamaica and in brand Jamaica.

He further stated that Melia is entering Jamaica when the tourism sector is on a high, with hotels reporting very good occupancies.

Wyckeham McNeil speaking in Montego Bay

            “At this point in time, tourism in Jamaica is very positive. Arrivals are up, the hotels are full, and the airports are bursting at the seams. When your occupancies are up, it drives demand and when you drive demand, you drive investments and we are now seeing the fruits of that investment,” Dr. McNeill said.

The investment of Melia into Braco Village includes refurbishing of the existing 225 rooms and other buildings as well as the addition of 250 new rooms, bringing the room count to 475.

Some 400 permanent jobs will be created at the resort when it is completed, while between 200 and 300 will be available during the refurbishing and construction stages.

The Tourism Minister pointed out that Melia’s investment forms part of $54 billion dollars worth of investment in Jamaica’s tourism sector over the past 3 years.

“The investments that we have on the books now will see the addition of another 1, 600 new rooms to Jamaica over the next 18 months and a number of those rooms are right here in Trelawny…and this investment is important because it creates jobs,” Minister McNeill opined.

Meanwhile, Minister McNeill congratulated the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development on the work done in clearing most of the hurdles at the local authority for the investment by Melia Resort to take place.

He also stated that the Ministry of National Security, through the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, (PICA) has done a tremendous job in ensuring that immigration issues are addressed at the island’s airports, especially at the Donald Sangster International.

The Melia is one of the largest Spanish hotel companies in the world. This world renowned hotel has 350 franchises in over four continents.