Ocho Rios, St. Ann: EUROPEAN PLAN (EP) hotels and small businesses in Ocho Rios are once again appealing to tourism officials to assist them in their struggle to compete with what they say are powerful monopolies in the resort town.
Jean Cargill-Osbourne, owner of Ocho Rios Pharmacy, said that business for tenants in the Ocean Village Shopping Centre was at an all-time low, with nothing to indicate that things would get better any time soon.
She said several businesses had been forced to close due to pressures of high interest rates and overhead costs with little business from cruise ships.
“Things are definitely not pretty around here,” Mrs. Cargill-Osbourne said. “The cruise ships are coming but definitely not for the people in the Ocean Village Plaza.”
Mrs. Cargill-Osbourne added that the promenade which led directly from the cruise pie to the plaza and which cost millions of dollars to build, was not being utilized much by visitors.
She said that the situation has reached a stage where it did not matter how many ships were in port, as only a minority of the people in Ocho Rios stood to benefit.
Simone Green, businesswoman in the own, said her business has been steadily declining over the years and fears that if things did not get better, she might have to start doing something else. She said the authorities had allowed others to dictate what happened in the cruise ship market and had left many small business owners on the brink of collapse.
The small hotels, too, are also complaining of being shut out of the industry. They claim that they were at the mercy of the powerful all-inclusives and were slowly wilting away under the pressure.
“In my many years in the tourism industry, I have never seen it quite bad,” said one hotelier who requested anonymity. “The small hoteliers who have played their part in making this place what it is, are now finding it virtually impossible to survive.”
Former St. Ann Chamber of Commerce President Joe Issa, views the survival of the EP hotels as critical for the industry and has called on the Government to offer special incentives to struggling hoteliers, especially those facing closure.
Mr. Issa, who is also executive vice-president of SuperClubs, added that the tourism industry needed help, as even all the all-inclusives which he said has been a stabilizing factor in the industry, were coming under pressure as competition from other countries has increased. “Our wagons are hooked up to those of the smaller properties and it is important for the industry that they do survive,” Mr. Issa said.
Source: The Gleaner