What activities do you provide for Jamaicans and tourists alike?
IAN DEAR Margaritaville is our foundation brand and that experience is all about coming in and enjoying the natural environment of the Caribbean. We encourage people to spend the day with us, and while they are on the island, we offer them a day-long entertainment experience alongside great food and beverage services. In 2006, we broadened our focus to provide multi-branded food, beverage, and entertainment experiences for major transportation hubs throughout the Caribbean. At Sangster International Airport (MBJ), we entered into a long-term agreement to provide all the post-security F&B offerings and have 23 different locations onsite. We also recently signed with Starbucks in a joint venture partnership with Adam Stewart and opened our first store at Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay. We plan to roll out more locations.
ROBERT RUSSELL I have a long tradition of being involved with music and business. There has been an evolution of music in Jamaica, and now there is a shift back to reggae. We had a concert with an up-and-coming reggae act called Chronixx that was so popular we had to turn people away. In Jamaica, the dancehall still reigns supreme because it is a reflection of our culture. Our music has also had an impact on hip-hop in the US, and now it is having an effect on our music. We keep abreast of the market. Every Friday we have a party and play different types of music to judge reactions and popularity. The audience is a mix of tourists and Jamaicans, and it keeps our finger on the pulse.
What is your outlook for Jamaican tourism in the coming years?
ID Jamaica has seen tremendous growth in tourism numbers. Our operations were seasonal for a long time; however, in the last two years we have seen business become more constant. Hotels are full and retain their rates all-year round. For various reasons, Jamaica has become primarily an all-inclusive destination. However, we have not done as great a job at developing and maintaining areas outside our resorts. There are opportunities to create and develop our out-of-resort experiences. If we can upgrade the destinations and experiences, we will start to see a new element of tourism here. People will be encouraged to come out of their all-inclusive resorts, have a great experience, and get a true sense of Jamaica.
RR 2017 will likely be our best year for tourism ever, and 2018 will be better. We avoided a great deal of the damage that a number of other islands suffered in the hurricanes, and people rerouting to our islands benefited us. Jamaica has more attractions than all the other islands combined, and we will continue to do well. There is a great deal of diversification in the Jamaican tourism product, and our attractions are excellent. I would like to see health tourism develop more in Jamaica. Attracting medical tourists would be a major boost to the economy, and it would mean development in a number of areas.
What are your future plans and projects?
ID We are constantly evaluating and seeking to understand the evolution in the marketplace. The younger traveling customer base seeks unique immersion experiences, and we have to adapt and create a product to meet this demand. We have to ensure our business model continues to fit with what our customers want. We are constantly seeking to create new partnerships that are relevant to our customer base and brands. There are more opportunities and the Jamaican government and the Ministry of Tourism are leading the country in the right direction.
RR A number of people are asking about franchising. We look to open another location in Jamaica as well as franchises overseas. There is one in London and possibly one in the Cayman Islands soon. We also plan to take reggae on an American tour. We recently entered the hotel business as well. We were able to organize an attractive deal with the bank as it owned the mortgage. The hotel was recently refurbished, and its location is excellent. Occupancy has been high.