JHTA USAID CARCEP Launch

GREETINGS BY OMAR ROBINSON,
PRESIDENT JAMAICA HOTEL & TOURIST ASSOCIATION
AT THE USAID CARIBBEAN CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM BENCHMARKING TOOL
& ENERGY EFFECIENCY WORKSHOP FOR FINANCIAL OFFICERS,
GENERAL MANAGERAS AND OWNER/OPERATORS

HALF MOON HOTEL, MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA

THURSDAY, JANUARY 26

Mission Director, USAID Energy Effeciency Promotion Specialist, Caribbean Clean Energy Program, John Marcocchio Energy Effeciency Specialist, Caribbean Clean Energy Program, Hugh Cresser Other Distinguished Guests Members of the Press Ladies and Gentlemen

GOOD MORNING

It is a pleasure for us at the JHTA to join you at the launch of the Caribbean Clean Energy Program Benchmarking Tool and Energy Workshop today. Energy represents a critical resource in the delivery of service in tourism. It is needed for everything from lighting through to air conditioning and entertainment; and as such, the electricity demands of the tourism sector are high.

Jamaica's energy system is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels and petroleum imports. Therefore, as oil prices rise, so does our energy bill; as the value of our dollar fluctuates, so does our energy bill. And even with The Jamaica Public Service Company recently reporting a reduction in energy cost of 4.12% for January 2017, energy costs in Jamaica (more specifically electricity rates) remain amongst the highest in the world. I am sure we all agree that energy cost in Jamaica is still much too high.

What this means for a hotel is that it may struggle to remain competitive against its global counterparts as they must price a hotel stay at a premium in order to cover high electricity cost. What it also means is that a hotelier may struggle to properly plan expenses as the cost of electricity is in a constant flux. Combine this with the high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the use of oil-fired electricity generation as is primarily the case in Jamaica and I believe it is clear that as a sector we have a pressing need to rethink how we do business. Is it time that we finally seek to identify a better way to meet our energy needs; to identify a more cost effective way; a more environmentally friendly way; a more predictable way? I think yes.

With that, The launch of USAID CARCEP's Benchmarking Tool and Workshop is timely. The players in our industry now stand to benefit from insight into how their energy usage compares to that of their counterparts, insight into what is consuming energy and mapping how that varies over time. This is insight which would not have previously been available to a hotelier and this insight brings with it the opportunity to improve; to tangibly see where one stands; to chart a path towards more efficient energy usage; and to take control of one's own destiny.

Couple this data with recommendations on how a hotelier may diversify its energy supply, take advantage of solar, hydro and wind energy solutions and we have a winning recipe. Interestingly, a key ingredient of this recipe resides in the use of the same resources which can be thanked for making Jamaica such a sought after tourism destination - our amazing sunshine, waters which run throughout the island and rustling winds. And what is more, in using these resources for energy we do not stand to run out or suffer an increase in the price per barrel.

In closing, The JHTA applauds USAID CARCEP on this launch and we can say that this is another job well done for the USAID, which has on many occasions supported the JHTA and the tourism sector. From projects such as Environmental Audits for Sustainable Tourism in Hotels and Environmental Training to Hotel Staff. All of which has helped in bringing well needed resources and insight to the tourism sector. We have in the past acted on these insights and much of the benefits can be seen even today. So with that, we encourage everyone to learn as much as they can, to take advantage of this tremendous resource and put the learnings garnered into practice.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THANK YOU.

Omar Robinson
President, JHTA