Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says the $250 million being spent on upgrading works in Ocho Rios will be a tremendous boost to the economic fortunes of the resort town.
Minister Robinson, who is also Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann, where Ocho Rios in located, said that the work to be carried out on the fishing village and the neighbouring Reynolds Pier will benefit both locals and visitors.
“These projects that are being undertaken by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) will certainly boost tourism and create employment,” said Ms. Robinson, who toured the facilities on May 12 along with Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.
“I will even go as far to say that when this is all done, Ocho Rios will be right up there as one of the premier ports of call in the region,” she added.
Minister Robinson noted that as a former fishing village, Ocho Rios has some of the finest attractions seen anywhere in the world, and should very soon be dominating in both cruise and stopover arrivals.
The work on the Ocho Rios Fishing Village is being carried out in two phases. The first phase, which is under way, should be completed within the next few months, with the second phase set for completion before year end.
The upgrading of the multipurpose Reynolds Pier is scheduled to begin shortly, and the works are expected to bring the facility on a par with the port of Falmouth.
Dr. Chang, who also has responsibility for Water, Works and Housing, said Ocho Rios has a great deal of potential that needs to be fully maximised.
“The Government is committed to ensuring that it will have the capacity to entertain all the cruise ships that will dock in the area,” he noted.
“I think it’s obvious that for more than one reason Ocho Rios will become the principal cruise destination in the Caribbean, and we have to make every effort to bring it to the standard it should be internationally,” he added.
For his part, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Port Authority, Professor Gordon Shirley, said he envisions Ocho Rios becoming a first-class destination with all the amenities befitting such an important status.
“What we are putting together here is a modern facility, with sufficient parking for the fisherman’s beach,” he informed. “The aesthetics will be very pleasing, certainly much improved. We will also have a promenade that will take visitors from the Reynold’s Pier through the fishing village and right into the town,” he noted further.
“This is a very important upgrade for the town of Ocho Rios and one that will yield tremendous benefits,” Professor Shirley said.