Jamaica Tourism Icon | Heinz Simonitsch Dies
KINGSTON: The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) has saluted legendary hotelier Heinz Simonitsch, who died over the weekend.
The body cited him as one of the foremost pioneers of sustainable tourism development in the region.
“Professor Heinz was a pioneer in the industry in so many ways, leading by example, providing exemplary service, infusing ‘Caribbean’ and ‘Jamaican’ into his product offering, and expanding the boundaries of the industry well beyond that of his beloved Half Moon hotel with investments in the development of the people and communities surrounding his property,” recalled CHTA Chief Executive, Frank Comito, and CHTA, President, Patricia Affonso-Dass, in a joint statement.
The region’s tourism leaders expressed sorrow to learn of the passing of Simonitsch, a former Caribbean Hotelier of the Year, a CHTA past President and the first recipient of CHTA Icon of Hospitality honour for his incomparable contributions to the sector.
At a time when the growth of tourism and hospitality were raising questions about the effects of unbridled tourism development, Simonitsch led the way in showing hoteliers how their increased attention to the needs of local communities and to their shared environment could benefit both while enhancing the profitability of their properties.
His clear vision and business acuity enabled him to show the world how a luxury resort like Half Moon could attract and maintain high-end guests by displaying proactive environmental protection, implementing effective responses to the medical and educational needs of local communities, and boosting the employment and training of locals.
The hotelier secured global recognition of the ineradicable complementarity of luxury and sustainable economic, social and environmental development – with the property winning a host of titles at the World Travel Awards, including recognition as Caribbean’s Leading Conference Hotel.
Simonitsch moved to Jamaica in 1963 where he leapt to prominence when he expanded the Half Moon Club into a leading 400-acre resort.
Before his passing, he split his time between Jamaica and his home country of Austria, where he owned the Grandhotel Lienz, which opened in April 2009.
The property was honoured with the title of World’s Leading Wellness Hotel by the World Travel Awards in 2019.
He received many accolades, including the Honorary Order of Distinction, Commander Class conferred by the governor general of Jamaica for outstanding contribution to tourism in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Simonitsch, here seen with World Travel Awards founder Graham Cooke, was honoured on a number of occasions by voters
Simonitsch was also honoured with the Golden Cross from the Austrian government for his long service as honorary consul general in Jamaica; the International Humanitarian Award from the American Friends of Jamaica for his commitment to helping the Jamaican population; the title of professor by the Austrian president for services and outstanding contribution to Austria; and the Blue Mountain award conferred for exceptional contributions to the continued growth and development of the Jamaican tourism industry.