Tourism in Ocho Rios

In 1943 Abe Issa (nicknamed ‘Mr. Jamaica’) and the first Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) had so many guests at the Myrtle Bank Hotel that he decided to expand to the North Coast.

In 1948 Abe built the Tower Isle Hotel in a relatively simple and unknown section of the island. Many of notable guests who stayed there included: Debbie Reynolds, Sarah Vaughn, Vincent Price and Eva Gabor.

‘Mr. Jamaica’ brought an awareness of a Jamaican paradise to travelers (or tourists) in the international market.

Later on, in 1978, Abe introduced the ‘all inclusive’ concept for couples. Tower Isle Hotel was re-named Couples and still remains on the original site.

Later Shaw Park Beach Hotel rose to prominence under Flora Stuart who started another hotel – The Jamaica Inn, which was later operated by her daughter, Gloria Elkins, who later opened and operated the Plantation Inn (now Sandals Royal Plantation).

Fred Perry the famous British tennis star opened the Runaway Bay Hotel and Eaton Hall flourished under the Heatheringtons.

Ocho Rios attracted such figures as Winston Churchill, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Bassey and Marilyn Munroe.

Shortly after the opening of Tower Isle Hotel the construction of other hotels began. This expansion coupled with the jet age heralded tourism as we know it today.