Sunday, July 2, 2017

Attending the Mexican Resort Development Conference (AMDETUR)- Promoting Timeshare opportunities in Jamaica

From June 20-22 I had the privilege of attending the 30th annual AMDETUR (Mexican Resort Development Association) conference in Puerto Vallarta. The theme was "Three decades transforming tourism in Mexico."
The Mexican Resort Development Association was born in 1987 as a result of the rapid and sustained growth of Mexico’s tourist resort developers and the need to maintain a solid front for negotiating and working together with authorities and private enterprise, to develop standards and define an appropriate regulatory system that would support the Mexican tourist real estate industry.
The conference drew the key players in resort development, particularly in the timeshare industry. There were over 1,200 direct participants and another 450 attendees at various specialized workshops.
Opening of Conference with The Governor of the State of Jalisco, the Minister of Tourism, Chairman of the Board of AMDETUR, Carol Straw, Manager of Tourism Investments for JAMPRO
The list of participants, speakers and sponsors read like a who's who of the international timeshare industry: ARDA (American Resort Development Association), RCI, Interval, Dolphin Discovery (the current owner of Dolphin Cove in Jamaica), Holiday Systems Internation, Grupo Posadas, Pueblo Bonito Resorts, just to name a few.
There were memorable and enlightening panels featuring the top innovators in the Mexican tourism industry. A panel called "Pioneers: The evolution of a vision" was moderated by Mr. Ricardo Montaudon, the Group Managing Director of Latin America and Caribbean of Resorts Condominiums International, LLC a subsidiary of Group RCI.
Featured on this panel was Enrique de la Madrid, Minister of Tourism , Pablo Gonzalez Carbonell, Chairman of the Board of Royal Holiday, Mr. Kemeil Assad Rizk Aziz, President and CEO of Royal Resorts and Ernesto Coppel Kelly, President of Pueblo Bonito. Mr. Ernesto Coppel Kelly is a leading voice in Mexico’s tourism industry and is the founder and chairman of six internationally acclaimed Pueblo Bonito Resorts and Spas (Cabo/Mazatlan). 
With Ernestro Coppel Kelly after he won the Gold Palm Award for Outstanding Visionary.
Among the other workshops of significant importance were : The New Consumer: Beyond the Millennials; New Opportunities and Challenges in the Digital Era; Smart Destinations – The Future of the Industry and Breaking Paradigms: Creating Unique Experiences.
The newly released 2016 Worldwide Shared Vacation Ownership Report, conducted by Oxford Economics and Leger for the ARDA International Foundation (AIF), has shown that the international timeshare industry is increasing in size, and has become more diverse in makeup and ready for future growth. The shared vacation ownership industry has shown consistent, sustainable growth over the past several years. Between 2014 and 2015, global sales increased 11.5% from $17.7 billion to $19.7 billion. Occupancy rates in the shared vacation ownership industry have been strong, registering 79.4% in 2015, an increase from 76.4% in 2014. 
ARDA Research shows that the timeshare industry is forging ahead in the global markets. In fact, survey respondents indicate they will complete 91 new properties with more than 7,300 total units worldwide in 2017 and beyond – a strong sign.
With white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and year-round sunshine,  Jamaica remains a vacationer’s paradise. While overloading the senses with breathtaking scenery, Jamaica also offers its own unique history, heritage, and cultural diversity that transports visitors to another world. Its proximity, reputation for safe travel, and cultural familiarity with American vacationers has made Jamaica a premier destination by first-timers and loyal returnees year after year.
Jamaica's timeshare legislation was passed last year, regulations brought into play, and is open for business on the first of May 2016. It was a great opportunity to speak with attendees at the AMDETUR conference highlighting the fact that Jamaica represents a new frontier with new opportunities and new prospects for timeshare developer and operators.
With Carlos Trujillo, President of AMDETUR.
Jamaica also had the unique privilege of being the only investment promotion government agency invited to attend, which speaks to the close relationship that Jamaica has fostered with AMDETUR, which was facilitated through PROMEXICO, Mexico's investment and trade agency. My counterpart, César Armando Espinosa , PROMEXICO's Subdirector for Latin America and the Caribbean, has been an outstanding partner in fostering mutual cooperation between JAMPRO and PROMEXICO for the benefit of both our private sectors.
Jamaica has been promoting various  Shovel Ready Tourism Investment Projects and JAMPRO has been leading on facilitating investors through the implementation of a seamless process that takes them easily from the point of conception to construction. Jamaica is estimated to receive 4.2 million visitors this year, which represents a 5 percent increase on the 3.84 million tourists the country received in 2016.
Jamaica has been working towards broadening our economic growth through tourism diversification and this conference presented a substantial platform to remind investors that there is still a lot of room for hotel and timeshare investments, both large and small.
At the 2016 World Travel Awards, destination Jamaica as well as several local resorts and tourism partners came away big winners, winning several important awards, which included:World’s Leading Wedding Destination, World’s Leading Cruise Destination, World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company (Sandals Resorts International), World’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort Brand (Beaches Resorts), World’s Leading New Island Resort (Meliá Braco Village), and World’s Leading Villa Resort (Round Hill Hotel & Villas).

Sunday, June 4, 2017

China's Policy in the Caribbean-Opportunities for Jamaica

On May 30, 2017,  the Department of Government of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona,  hosted a panel discussion on China's Policy  in the Caribbean   and Latin America. The panel discussion, organized by  Head of department of governance Dr. Lloyd Waller and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, featured guest speakers such as  Ambassador Richard Bernal, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs  at University of the West Indies, Chinese  Ambassador to Jamaica,  NIU Qingbao, , Mrs. Irene Cousins, President of the Jamaica-China  Friendship Association and myself representing JAMPRO.

Ambassador Niu outlined the general objective of China's policy on LACChina wishes to build a new relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean with five salient features. Namely, sincerity and mutual trust in the political field, win-win cooperation on the economic front, mutual learning in culture, close coordination in international affairs, as well as mutual reinforcement between China's cooperation with the region as a whole and its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region.

Regarding investment, China encourages its enterprises to invest and start businesses in LAC countries, and promote production capacity cooperation.   China  also wishes to expand and deepen cooperation in the fields of energy and resources. China encourages the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model and joint construction of industrial parks to promote inter-connectivity in the area of infrastructure in assisting LAC's industrial upgrading. 

This aspect of building and bolstering infrastructure creates a paradigm where Jamaica's economic growth objectives and Chinese companies financial interest meet in the middle. There is an umbilical cord between road, port and air infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investment. 

Jamaica needs to upgrade infrastructure, expand manufacturing, revive agriculture, and attract more foreign tourism. The location of the Caribbean islands-right in the middle of the North and South American trade markets-make them very appealing to Chinese Investors. 

Chinese companies evolving economic strategy is now one of diversification, with less emphasis on traditional industries such as minig and energy and more on sectors such as infrastructure (including airports, seaports and roads), construction, telecommunication, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. 

At a major international conference held in China in 2016 and attended by representatives of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Chinese president Xi Jinping announced his country's intention to invest US$250 billion over the next ten years into Latin America and the Caribbean. Let us make no mistake, the Caribbean faces competition for Chinese Investment. Most notably from our neighbours in Latin America. Higher wages, modest natural resources and smaller markets relative to Latin America, make the Caribbean less attractive on paper.

Jamaica, however, has had a comparative advantage relative to our other Caribbean neighbors. Both of Jamaica's political parties have been committed to attracting foreign direct investment, agreements made under one administration have been honored by incoming administrations, there is no restrictions on foreign ownership of companies or land in Jamaica. The Chinese have found in a Jamaica, a willing partner for reliable, long-term business opportunities.

China Harbour Engineering Company's decision to locate their regional headquarters in Jamaica is an indication of the confidence and vision of Jamaica as a country with the potential for long-term profitable growth.

Finally, Jamaica's aspiration to be the fourth node in the global trading system along with Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam, require massive capital expenditure. Jamaica's current debt status handicaps its financial ability to build out the infrastructure, Special Economic Zones, industrial parks for light manufacturing and repacking of shipping containers, which would make this a reality. The interest and plans of Chinese firms to invest in and build out these operations, allows Jamaica to attract companies from other parts of the world who require these facilities  to be in place before they consider investment.

 Jamaica sits between the two large land masses of North and South America, and enjoys free trade agreements with North America and Europe, among others. The transformation of Jamaica into the logistics hub of the region has positive  far-reaching ramifications for our country and our population in terms of jobs and sustainable economic growth. 

Jamaica has been embarking down the path of building a symbiotic relationship with China and Chinese firms which embody the "Win-Win Cooperation" policy outlined by the Chinese government. 

Jamaica, for it's part has treated  Chinese investors with one simple mindset, "It's a relationship, not a transaction.
Fan , Jianghong -Economic Counsellor, Embassy of China, Niu QingBao- Ambassador of China to Jamaica and myself at panel.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Suitcases of Peru- Innovative Tourism Marketing

Every traveler's felt it: That moment of false hope when you mistake someone else's suitcase for yours on the luggage return belt. If you're creative (and practical), you tie a ribbon, tie or tag, to your bag to identify it among the hordes of grey and black  suitcases at the airport. One Peruvian creative agency realized that moment presented an opportunity to put eyeballs on their client—Peru tourism—and turned a few boring suitcases into an incredibly successful campaign to bring more visibility to Peru as a tourist destination.

As showcased in a video by Tribal 121, a creative agency based in Lima, the "Suitcases of Peru" campaign launched in  2016 to inspire travelers to visit Peru. As the video states, digital display ads in New York cost $124,000 per year, and in London, $260,000 per year. Instead of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars, Peru's tourism board, PromPerú, and Tribal 121 had a different plan: They decorated a series of suitcases with majestic images of the South American nation, then gave the luggage to some of the country's most recognizable travelers: fashion designers, chefs, musicians, and athletes among them.

These suitcases are personalized with images of the most famous and interesting tourist places of Peru. These bags were delivered to Peruvian celebrities who travel around the world, effectively promoting Peru as a travel destination, while also saving money on big advertisements. The development of this idea is when some of these famous Peruvians are at the airport, they are the center of attention and these bags promote and advertise the country of Peru.

The campaign has now been expanded so that ordinary people can order a Peru-branded suitcase too, via the Peru brand Facebook page. We're told they're so popular they're currently sold out, but more will be made available via an arrangement with a luggage brand.

I am hoping the Jamaica Tourist Board may consider a campaign like this. The best thing is that this campaign can go on for years as Jamaicans travel around the world. Even giving these suitcases away to select tourist visitors on arrival would ensure that even when those tourists travel to other destinations Jamaica will still be a conversation starter.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Panama and Tourism investment

Panama's Ministry of Economy and Finance has announced that it projects the country's economic growth for 2017 at 5.8 per cent, the highest rate among all Latin American economies, citing strong performance in a variety of sectors including construction, mining, finance and public services, as well as public infrastructure and energy generation. 

Panama has increasingly become more popular for foreign investment due to its stable political environment. It boasts a skyline of nearly 80 high-rises, some more than 70 stories high, a $5.4 billion canal expansion, the first natural gas Generation Plant in Latin America a 1.1 billion investment and the sleek new air-conditioned Metro. From a foreign investment perspective, Panama is growing economically stronger, with a steadily growing GDP, a pro-business government and a rising real estate market.

Panama’s FDI growth also reflects the number of multinational companies opening headquarters in Panama City, providing a steady stream of new renters and buyers for the real estate market. The majority of the FDI in Panama in 2016—64.5 percent–was from foreign entities reinvesting in Panama, according to coverage in La Prensa. 

Thanks to tax incentives and government promotions, investment in the tourism sector is at an all-time high.
A quick Google search for "Panama" brings up white sandy beaches, impressive skylines, and the works (and of course the canal). The challenge now is to translate a pristine image into real tourism dollars. A deeper dive uncovers statistics and policies that are already turning these ambitions into reality.

Tourism is also interconnected with the wider economy, as related growth drives construction of hotels, retail spaces, and aircraft purchases and much more. Investment dollars are flooding in.

Companies in the private sector are also responding to legal incentives to invest in tourism. Law 80 of November 8th, 2012 went into effects in 2014, and provides tax exemption in order to encourage private investment. The incentives include import taxes, consumption of certain goods and services taxes, docks and airports taxes, capital tax, real estate tax, and income tax. What makes this law stand out is the scope of activities that it governs. The law is proving to be a boon for the marine sector in general, and for marine tourism in particular including constructing piers, ports, and medium-scale marinas. Article 4 of the law grants complete exemption from import duties on material and equipment imported for ports and piers for five years. In addition, there is a 15-year exemption from paying taxes on improvements made to existing ports and their.

Firms that service tourism related firms may now claim certain exemptions as well. Activities here include: construction of new works and hosting public service activities with a minimum investment of $250,000. For investments in indigenous (rural) areas, this minimum is lowered to $100,000. Remodeling and equipment of more than $100,000 is also exempt. The exemptions cover tourist accommodations with at least 50 rooms; tourist accommodation services with a minimum investment of $8 million; related investments (golf courses and tennis courts, restaurants, convention centers, marinas, and other facilities within this category) that are integrated to hotel investment and/or part of the same project.

Beyond just saving money, Panama has made it much easier to start up a company, which allows the sector to respond quickly to demand. If a certain area or activity surges in popularity think new beaches, sharing economy exploits, and novel sleeping arrangements entrepreneurs can tap into these revenue streams without delay. The government is also streamlining its concession process.

Panama's government is partnering with private sector actors like Copa Airlines to put bodies on the beaches, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) has budgeted $12 million from June to December 2015, as part of a $100 million project though 2019.

In general terms, tourism and travel directly accounted for $3.3 billion, or 7.4% of GDP. . One encouraging sign is an increase in tourism related capital investment. Up from $584 million in 2010, investment is expected to reach $928.5 million this year and eventually, $1.56 billion by 2025.

Last year, the sector directly supported 136,500 jobs, or 7.7% of total employment. This statistic is expected to rise by 1.9% to 163,000 in 2025, holding a steady 7.7% of the total employment .

Fostering Mexican Investment in Jamaica

Mexico and Jamaica have been strengthening ties  which began 51 years ago with the establishment of diplomatic relations  and now has progressed to a new chapter of  investmens which has led to   the US$200 million investment in the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande Resort by the Chapur family of the Mexico based Palace Resorts fame, and the purchase of Dolphin Cove by the Mexican company, Dolphin Discovery.

Karisma Hotels and Resorts has set aside US$900 million to construct as many as nine hotels in Jamaica, adding 4,000 rooms.  The Mexico-based hospitality giant said the project will be completed over the next eight to ten years, creating about 5,000 indirect jobs in addition to 8000 direct jobs.

Mexico’s FDI is concentrated in the United States, but is also does some small investing in countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain, Chile and now, Jamaica.
Mexican companies invested USD$8 Billion abroad in 2015

 The economic benefits of tourism to Jamaica are without parallel.   It is an engine for sustainable job creation and an umbilical cord between economic growth and social welfare . Tourism and travel's impact on the economic and social development of a country are an important factor in opening it up for business, trade and capital investment and  creating jobs. The benefits also trickle down to service providers of all kinds and enables local companies to  supply these hotels with everything from fruits and vegetables to bedding and uniforms.
 Tourism employs the second largest number of Jamaicans (approx. 200,000) both directly (in hotels, transport, attractions and craft), as well as indirectly (trading, manufacturing, banking, etc mainly in and around resort towns)..
JAMPRO has been instrumental in promoting Jamaica as the prime source for long-term profitable tourism investments. The confidence shown in Jamaica by brands such as  , Moon Palace and Karisma from Mexico, along with other international heavyweights like Riu, Iberostar, Secrets and local multinational Sandals, is evidence of the strength of Brand Jamaica.
JAMPRO continues to cultivate value-added relationships with investors and industry associations, such as the Association of Mexican Tourism Developers (AMDETUR) to assist them with bespoke solutions and communicate the unrivaled value proposition of Jamaica's tourism sector.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Captain Morgan History Lesson

Last night as I faced the daunting dilemma of choosing between Bacardi and Captain Morgan, the bartender at the hotel bar asked me where I was from and I told him Jamaica (Jamaiquno). He then said that the Captain Morgan Rum company had sponsored a research expedition a few years ago to find the lost fleet of Cpatin Morgan and they found a wreckage with cannons, barrels and swords that may have belonged to him.
Well that solved my dilemma, I chose a Captain Morgan Mojito. When my friends arrived at the hotel we just bought a bottle and kept up the Captain Morgan brand ambassadorship at two more bars.
Morgan Henry raided Panama City with 1,400 men in January 1671. While he went on to overpower the city, he lost five ships amid rough seas and the shallow reef around the fort of Castillo de San Lorenzo. I think adding this history lesson will convince my friends this was an academic exercise.
Suffice to say last night was sponsored by Captain Morgan, this morning was sponsored by Tylenol. Work like a Captain, party like a pirate.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Foro de Cancun and Caribbean Trade

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Healthy Snack Segment -Trends in 2016

By Nick Sutherland

The healthy snack category is uptrending faster than the entire food and beverage market in sales growth, according to a report from Packaged Facts. The study found that sales of salty snacks like potato chips, pretzels and popcorn, as well as portable meat snacks like jerky, have grown in sales or at least remained steady in the past five years. But the packaged snack industry has benefitted from an influx of healthier snack formulations that meet today’s consumers’ health-focused, organic lifestyles.

“Healthy-ingredient snacks offer the perfect convergence of many important modern food industry trends, and as a result, the segment is thriving,” the report said. What are they looking for :Portable. Healthy.Transparent labels and packaging.

Between 2011 and 2016, the healthy snack segment achieved a annual growth rate of 4.7%. The growth skyrocketed in the past two years in particular, fueled by double-digit growth in the meat snack and trail mix categories in 2015 and growth in granola and snack bar sales in 2016. It has been estimated that the segment’s sales will continue to grow, achieving an average growth rate of 5.7% in the next four years and reaching sales of $25.4 billion by 2020.

It has been estimated that the salty snack segment of the alternative-ingredient snack market grew almost 7 percent in 2016, faster growth than was seen by the salty snacks category holistically.

A key market driver is the continued consumer demand for fewer ingredients and “free-from” products, especially the removal of allergens, gluten and bioengineered ingredients. Allergen- and gluten-free claims are the most popular in the segment.
Other trends driving healthy snack growth include innovative flavors, a shift toward bite-size and single-serve snacks and the ongoing trend toward healthier eating.

CVS Pharmacy is expanding its selection of healthier foods and beverages in more than 2,900 stores nationwide. Each week throughout the year, 100 stores will be enhanced with a curated assortment of national and niche better-for-you brands, including Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Chobani, Vita Coco, Bai, Krave Jerky, Rhythm Superfoods and That’s It bars. Additionally, the drug store chain will add products to its exclusive line, Gold Emblem Abound, which is free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Alcohol Ads 2016

Appleton Rum ad- 2016

Absolut Vodka #AbsolutNights

Wild Turkey Bourbon- The Journey Begins

Burnside Bourbon Commercial