The island’s two major hotel chains, SuperClubs and Sandals, with nearly 70 per cent of their business being generated from the United States, have been hard hit by the terrorist attacks on two American cities.
The repercussions being felt by the two hotel giants have jolted their operations where they have now being forced to make radical changes to their operations, including the rotation of staff and the bonding of moguls John Issa and ‘Butch’ Stewart.
But according to representatives of both tourism entities, empathizing with their American partners were now foremost on their minds. They spoke of the relationship they have with United States and the importance of this relationship to Jamaica’s tourism.
“Seventy five per cent of our business come directly from the United States,” explained Leo Lambert, Group Public Relations Officer for Sandals. “As our American friends struggle to regroup, this is a very difficult period for all of us in the sector.” He added that Sandals was now making a concerted effort to pamper all their guests to show then that “in this difficult time we too share their pains and concerns.”
Mr. Lambert notes that now was the time for the Caribbean to come together as a region to strategize ways to effectively deal with the massive downturn in tourism. “We have to pull through this together,” he said. “We have to convince Americans that we are the destination of choice during this difficult time – that we are a place to come and relax and try to relieve their stress. With our close proximity to the United States, we have a golden opportunity to salvage our season.”
Executive Vice President of SuperClubs, Joe Issa, said that as airline travel in the United State continues to decline, the effects were being felt “like thunderclaps throughout the sector.” Like his competitors at Sandals, he notes that SuperClubs was feeling a lot of empathy for the people of the United States at this time, adding that his country has had a long lasting relationship with that country.
“This is a very difficult period for all of us locally but even more so for our American counterparts,” he said. “As America brace for war nobody knows what the future will bring. Whatever game plan we had going into the winter tourist season has to now be radically changed as we enter this grave period of uncertainty.”
) The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTAis also firmly in solidarity with the country’s “American partners” despite the grave period where a number of their hotels are on the brink of closure. According to President, Josef Forstmayer, the JHTA has been working round the clock to find ways to get through the current crisis facing the sector but was optimistic that the winter season could be saved.
Picture caption: “This is a very difficult period for all of us locally but even more so for our American counterparts” –Joe Issa (pictured) Executive Vice-President of SuperClubs