The courtyard of the historic Devon House in St. Andrew is to be “spruced up” under a $70-million development project.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, broke ground to undertake the beautification project during a ceremony at the courtyard, on Thursday (March 17).
He noted that this new development thrust aims to position Kingston, particularly Devon House, “as the gastronomy centre of the Caribbean and, arguably, the western world”.
The Minister pointed out that gastronomy represents the centrepiece of the consumption patterns of visitors across the world, noting that 42 per cent of the expenditure of visitors is in food.
Mr. Bartlett informed that in 2019, visitors spent US$9 trillion, overall, moving across borders, with just over US$4 trillion of that amount being spent on food.
“Gastronomy for us in tourism represents the number-one pillar of growth – that is the driver of the travel options that people have. Devon House is going to be the standard for the presentation of destination Kingston over time,” he said.
The Minister said the intention is to improve the aesthetics and functional appeal of Devon House for local and foreign visitors.
“We [want] to extend that physical presence that this great destination has across the world, by increasing and improving the physical and material assets that we market every day,” he said.
In his remarks, Deputy Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew, Councillor Winston Ennis, noted that the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) is pleased to endorse the new development.
He said Devon House holds a significant place in the history of Kingston and St. Andrew, as it boasts one of the largest recreational green spaces and the location generates tremendous interest as the house has been well preserved to accommodate guided tours.
Mr. Ennis said that given the rich history and the significant heritage to the municipality, “Devon House shall continue to be chief among the many attractions for foreign and local visitors as well as priceless educational experience for students of history”.
Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North East, Hon. Delroy Chuck, also welcomed the initiative as an additional incentive to attract more visitors.
Devon House, which is one of Jamaica’s most celebrated historic landmarks, was the residence of George Stiebel, a former slave who became Jamaica’s first black millionaire.
The work on the property is to be undertaken over a six-month period by Bernard’s Contracting Services, and will be closely monitored by the implementing agency, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).