Jamaica’s business sector continued to thrive and progress in 2019. Online passport applications were made available for adults, new oil resources were discovered, and several large construction projects marked improvements were initiated. New charging stations for electric vehicles were provided, and Jamaica received recognition as one of the world’s favorite travel destinations.
ONLINE PASSPORT RENEWAL APPLICATION MADE AVAILABLE FOR ADULTS
Jamaica’s Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) made available to adults the capability to pursue the passport renewal application policy online. By logging into the PICA website, individuals began the application process from anywhere in the world and at any time of day. The process required an applicant’s original passport, Jamaican citizenship document, digital photograph of relevant passport size that stored on a computer, a valid Visa or Mastercard credit card for paying fees, and a valid operational email address at which to receive messages from the government. The online system was designed to improve PICA’s services to its clients, according to Andrew Wynter, CEO of the agency.
THIRD OFFSHORE OIL SEEP DISCOVERED
The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) discovered via testing by two independent labs that an oil seep found in Jamaica in 2019 is the third offshore oil seep in the country. In making its announcement, the PCJ noted that the seep has no commercial potential, but its discovery provides strong indications that Jamaica has a viable petroleum system that generates and expels hydrocarbons to the surface. With this discovery, the number of hydrocarbon seeps is raised to five.
JAMAICA WON A MAJOR 2019 TRAVVY AWARD
Just two months after Jamaica swept the 2019 World Travel Awards in Portugal, the country also won big at the 2019 Travvy Awards in New York City. Jamaica took home five major Travvy Awards, with honors going to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who won the inaugural Chairman’s Award for Global Tourism Innovation. The Jamaica Tourist Board won Best Tourist Board in the Caribbean. The island nation also won Best Wedding Destination, Best Honeymoon Destination, and Best Culinary Destination.
JPS ANNOUNCED CHARGING STATIONS FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) announced its intention to install charging stations for electric vehicles, or EVs, at certain locations on the island. The action was part of a response to the expected increase in global sales of EVs. It was estimated that sales of the vehicles will reach 2.6 million in 2019, and drivers in Jamaica are likely to follow the trend. New and used car dealers in the country responded to customer demands for hybrid plug-in vehicles. Emerging designs for EV prompted the JPS to move quickly to find opportunities for greater diversification in revenue streams.
DIGICEL JAMAICAN NAMED FIRST WOMAN CEO
Digicel Jamaica appointed its first female CEO. Alison Cole-Philbert replaced Justin Morin, who was the first Jamaican CEO of the firm’s operations on the island. He served in this role since 2017. Cole-Philbert has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and will take charge of the company’s new digital strategy. She served in senior roles at the American telecom firm Verizon including in the position of Vice President of Regional Operations New England from 2012 to 2017. The new CEO has BS and MS degrees from George Washington University as well as an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
PRISON IN JAMAICA TO PUT INMATE-MADE PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET
Audley Shaw, Jamaican Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, supported the St. Catherine Correctional Center’s plan to put 20 products created and made by inmates on the market. The products included sauces, wines, beers, syrups, pudding and porridge mixes, tea, lotion, and hair conditioner. Involved in the manufacturing process were 25 members of the facility’s 4-H Club, who work under the supervision of officers and members of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs. Shaw said the project will contribute to the growth of agro-processing on the island.
REGGAE SUMFEST GENERATED J$1 BILLION
According to Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, the 2019 edition of the Reggae Sumfest music festival brought in J$1 billion. The festival, which was held in Montego Bay, was the largest staging of the event in terms of attendance from local citizens and guests from overseas, he noted. There were about 10,000 people who came to Jamaica for the festival, Bartlett said, an increase of 3,000 over the number in 2018. The festival impacted the revenues of average room nights stays for both foreign and local attendees.
JAMAICA PRAISED AS FINAL IMF REVIEW FINISHES
Jamaica attained another goal as the nation’s economy continued to recover. Jamaica completed the final review of its three-year precautionary stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to Christine Lagarde, former managing director of the agency, Jamaica received praise for completing the arrangement that was instituted after the four-year US$932 million Extended Fund Facility (EFF) that began in 2013.
LUXURY PLANET HOTEL PLANNED FOR TRELAWNY & OCEAN CORAL SPRING OPENED AT THE END OF 2019.
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, announced that a new luxury Planet Hollywood Hotel and Resort will be built in Trelawny. The agreement came after a meeting with the president and CEO of Sunwing Travel Group Stephen Hunter in Toronto, Canada. According to Bartlett, the development of the new 500-room hotel is underway. A new Ocean Coral Spring opening in late 2019 bringing 520 rooms to Montego Bay. Another Ocean Coral Spring with 480 rooms will be opening in May 2020.
NEW DISTRIBUTION CENTER UNDER CONSTRUCTION BY CARI-MED IN ST. CATHERINE
The ground was broken in Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine, for a new distribution center for Cari-Med Group Limited. Prime Minister Andrew Holness participated in the groundbreaking on October 16, 2019, for the first phase of the project which is scheduled to be finished in December of 2020. The facility will comprise 258,000 square feet and be located on property along Salt Pond Road. It is designed to be home to the administrative offices and warehouses of the organization’s Consumer Goods Division.