Cheaper to vacation in Dom Rep – Jamaica Observer

A major player in the local tourism industry has come out swinging at some foreign hotels whose rates, he said, are so high that it is cheaper for Jamaicans to fly to the Dominican Republic (Dom Rep) for vacation.
“We have seen an increase in Jamaicans hopping on the plane and heading into Punta Cana. It is cheaper to go to Punta Cana than actually spend a three-night stay at a lot of hotels here,” CEO of GO! Jamaica Travel Dave Chin Tung told the Jamaica Observer‘s LetsTravelCaribbean.com.
“I can tell you, in certain of the markets [in the accommodations sector] — and I won’t name them — it is cheaper for a foreigner to come and stay at a hotel in Jamaica than for a Jamaican to stay in the same hotel.”
Chin Tung and his five-member GO! Jamaica Travel team have a combined 130 years of tourism industry expertise under their belt and he would like to see a fixed number of rooms at a certain rate set aside for locals each night.
According to Chin Tung, if there are no takers these rooms can then be sold to foreigners at a higher rate.
“A couple years ago, we had local rates; a lot of hotels no longer have that. A lot of hotels just tend to have a flat rate whether you’re local or a foreigner. When you’re going to have a local and a foreigner paying the same rate, I have a problem,” he said.
Locals have complained that one-night stays at affordable prices —which were readily available when the domestic market kept the hotel sector afloat as COVID-19 kept visitors away — are few and far between now that the tourists are back.
In a previous interview with the Jamaica Observer, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Robin Russell maintained that locally-owned properties do offer shorter stays to the domestic market.
Chin Tung agreed as he said his broadside was against some non-Jamaican players in the accommodations sector.
“I don’t know if it is a Spanish thing, I really don’t know,” he said.
Locals’ ability to access affordable hotel rooms is just one of the issues the travel agency principal has with Jamaica’s tourism industry.
He also wants to see an end to short-term contracts, hotels’ reliance on foreign nationals as entertainment coordinators, and he wants local entertainment provided in all hotels here.
“If people are coming to Jamaica, they need to have an authentic Jamaican experience. I don’t want to experience a Cuban experience here. I don’t want an experience from out of Dom Rep. I don’t see why that is needed. I also don’t see why we need to employ entertainment coordinators out of Cuba and Dom Rep. I don’t. I personally have a problem with that. As I said, again, we have excellent talents here in Jamaica,” said Chin Tung.
He also wants to see more training provided to locals working in the sector, followed with salaries that will keep them from seeking jobs beyond the country’s borders.
“The salaries need to be improved. I see that hotels have increased a lot in their pricing in 2023 compared to 2022, or even compared to 2019. If you increase your pricing, you should be able to increase salaries,” he said.
His comments come ahead of GO! Jamaica Travel’s hosting of Travel Expo 2023 at the Jamaica Pegasus on April 29. The highly anticipated event will bring together scores of players who provide everything from accommodations to air and ground transportation and attractions. Both local and international hotels are among participants.
See related story in LetsTravelCaribbean.com on pages 21 & 22.
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