Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says St. Thomas is poised for development of its first major tourist resort.
Mr. Holness said that coming out of the Government’s announcement of the $4-billion Morant Bay Urban Centre, two “serious prospects” have expressed an interest in developing a hotel.
Spurring the investor interest are plans to declare the original town centre a Heritage Site, following the relocation of key public- and private-sector services and institutions to the new facility, which is to be developed on the 25-acre property previously housing the old Goodyear factory.
“We want to preserve all of the historic buildings that are there, including the church, which is over 350 years old, and (others) that are of historical and architectural interest, and start to create the nucleus of a tourism industry,” the Prime Minister said.
He was speaking at the second in the HOPE for Jamaica series of town hall meetings, organised by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, on the grounds of the old Goodyear factory on Thursday, July 13.
Mr. Holness contended that the Heritage Site will present the ideal opportunity to develop the new tourist resort model in Jamaica, which is gaining favour across the globe.
“The all-inclusive model that Jamaica started and introduced to the world has reached its limit in terms of how it can generate growth. The model that even people who are into the all-inclusives would want is (one where) the tourists…. come and stay in a resort (and) at some point, they… go out… and experience the true culture. So, they need things for the tourists to come and see. Now, they would have the historic old town and the new town,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holness said the new urban centre will represent the engine to generate significant economic growth and job creation for Morant Bay and the entire parish.
Noting that the new development will be a “true town centre”, he said it will provide facilities to accommodate the municipal authority, law enforcement, justice, business and commerce, education and training, and general public service delivery.
Mr. Holness noted that the development is imperative, as Morant Bay’s existing town centre “wasn’t planned for the level of activity that is (currently) there”.
“(So) if we are talking about development, then you have to have the vision of creating modern facilities for the people. We are hoping that we will be able to pull the people out of the old town (and) into the new town where your economic activities can be orderly and more efficient,” he added.
Work on the new Morant Bay Urban Centre, which is being spearheaded by the Factories Corporation of Jamaica, is slated to commence in December and completed within two years.