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Some $500 million have been earmarked, from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), for a comprehensive upgrading programme for the resort town of Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
This was disclosed by Tourism Minister, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, at the Government’s Town Hall meeting at the Ocho Rios High School, St. Ann, on Wednesday (July 15).
He said that the plan is for the design and creation of entrances and streetscapes, accommodating facilities and amenities for both residents and visitors.
“This plan will be the basis on which we will be implementing a number of projects to significantly improve the appeal of the Ocho Rios area,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He said that the plan has been finalised and will be presented to him for discussion at the level of the Economic Development Council of Cabinet. Once approval is given, the process of improving and enhancing the destination will begin.
Some $6.8 million have already been spent on the Rio Nuevo battle site, in collaboration with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), to put up a visitor arrival centre and install story boards and displays for a museum that will be officially opened on Saturday.
In addition, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) will collaborate on the establishment of an Artisan Village in Ocho Rios, at a cost of some $200 million on lands located between the Ocho Rios Jerk Centre and the Crane Ridge Resort.
He said that $60 million will be spent on project development in historical Seville, and $50 million on improving the Fern Gully road. In addition, a team has been established to work on designing the Fern Gully area as a major eco-tourism attraction, that will make Ocho Rios a total destination.
He added that some $107 million will be spent, in collaboration with the Airports Authority, to create the country’s first Jet Port in Boscobel, while another $150 million would go into improving the Shaw Park area.
“Not only are we talking about enhancing the aesthetics of the town, (we are) creating opportunities for employment and for craft, for our ground transportation and for our total tourism partners to be involved in ensuring that this town is developed,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He said that the project would also involve securing the settlement of people, in which case housing would become a key aspect of the total programme.