Karisma’s multi-billion-dollar St Ann project back on track

LUBO Krstajic, co-founder of Karisma Hotels & Resorts and international investor, has confirmed that the Karisma mega-resort project planned for Jamaica is back on track.

Krstajic shared the update with Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett at the Jamaica Stand during the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, recently.

“Lubo noted that ground breaking for the first of several resorts in the Karisma portfolio is to take place later this year, bringing more than 700 new rooms and thousands of new jobs. We are pleased that we fully understood the difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is more jobs, more linkages, more opportunities, and more revenues for all Jamaica. To meet the ongoing demand and interest in our beautiful island, we are working on the most ambitious tourism development and expansion plan in Jamaica’s history,” said Bartlett.

In February 2020, weeks before Jamaica recorded its first COVID-19 case, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Bartlett broke ground for the US$1-billion multi-resort development — Sugarcane Bay Jamaica — being led by Karisma Hotels & Resorts in Llandovery, St Ann.

The project is planned to be spread across a 226-acre property and was projected to add 4,700 new rooms in the tourism sector. The landmark investment was to create 10,000 new permanent jobs, attract approximately 375,000 visitors annually, and pump billions of revenue into the local economy.

Karisma already has a presence in Negril with two properties, but the St Ann development is to be its biggest project yet in Jamaica; however, with the onset of the pandemic, the project stalled.

Bartlett arrived in Dubai last weekend ahead for the Arabian Travel Market, the largest tourism trade show in the Middle East, accompanied by Director of Tourism Donovan White and senior advisor and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism Delano Seiveright.

The Jamaican contingent’s Dubai itinerary included meetings with very senior UAE government officials, government officials from the region, airline executives, tour operators, hoteliers, investors, media representatives, and others.

According to Seiveright, among the priorities of the engagements were “to continue detailed discussions with major airlines in the Gulf region, including Emirates, which are central to any moves in the Middle East, India, and surrounding countries; cement planning for our new market thrust into India, which is growing increasingly attractive; firm up relationships with key tour operators who are essential to bringing tourist traffic from targeted markets; have face-to-face engagements with key players across the travel and tourism trade in the region; and attract and encourage investment”.