(CMR) Jamaica tourism pioneer and former owner of Resort Sports Beach Club, Spanish Bay, Ernest “Ernie” Smatt, has died. Smatt (88) died Thursday in Florida after a short illness.
A water sports star himself, Smatt came to the Cayman Islands in the 70s and was instrumental in the water sports industry. He also served as chairman of The White House.
Smatt has been hailed as a pioneer in Jamaica's tourism industry for the part he played in the development of Ocho Rios. He owned and operated several tourism enterprises over the years, such as Watersports Enterprises Ltd., Shaw Park Hotel in St. Ann, Brimmer Hall Great House in St. Mary, and Mangos Beach Resort in Trelawny.
“Jamaica mourns the passing of a real tourism icon. Ernie Smatt was the quintessential tourism man. He understood the game and had the swagger that created the phenomenon he was during a period when Jamaica was the playground of the rich and famous, “ Jamaica's Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
In 2016, the Government of Jamaica recognized Smatt for his outstanding contribution to tourism development in Jamaica by honoring him with the Order of Distinction (Commander Class).