Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has announced the completion of the first phase of works under the Port Royal Restoration project.
Phase one involved the repair of key monuments, including the St. Peter’s Anglican Church and Fort Charles, as well as the building of an audio visual theatre at the Historic Naval Hospital.
The monuments were handed over, for management, to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture at a ceremony at the Historic Naval Hospital on Tuesday (June 29). Mr. Bartlett, the main speaker, said the restoration represents an integral part of the thrust to develop Kingston as an ideal cultural tourism destination.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is assisted by Executive Director of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, Laleta Davis-Mattis, in cutting the ribbon at the recently built Grog Shop at Fort Charles, Port Royal. The occasion was the unveiling of works completed under the first phase of the Port Royal Restoration Project on Tuesday (June 29). Also pictured from left are: Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Ian Neita; Chairman of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT); Patrick Stanigar; and Director General in the Tourism Minister, Carole Guntley.
He reiterated that following the recent series of unfortunate events in West Kingston, he has been meeting with United States, United Kingdom and Canadian travel partners, as part of the brand rebuilding exercise.
He said the perception of Kingston as a safe place to visit and to do business has been drastically tarnished by the events. Over the period, visitor arrivals to Kingston were down about 50 per cent, compared to Montego Bay which saw an increase averaging five per cent.
“We have to bring back Kingston and Port Royal, and its values are an important part of what is going to enable us to bring back Kingston,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett said he has a vision of a tourism triangle for the future, which includes Port Royal, Port Henderson and downtown Kingston.
“For me, that is the future for tourism in the Kingston Metropolitan Area – for cruise development and for hotels,” he said.
He stated that there are plans in place for the development of hotels at Harbour Head, while the whole Port Henderson area (St. Catherine) is ready for serious attention.
Mr. Bartlett said heritage and cultural tourism will play a significant role in the new developmental scheme for the industry. He also noted that it is a significant development tool, as it allows the residents of host communities, such as Port Royal, to become owners and direct benefactors of the product.
The phase has been completed with the assistance of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which disbursed some $72 million to fund the cost of the restoration works, of which some $40 million have already been spent. An additional $7.3 million was approved for refurbishing the St. Peter’s Church.
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo) managed the project on behalf of the TEF. The Port Royal Heritage site is managed by the Trust.
Mr. Bartlett also lauded the work of TEF which, he said, has been playing a critical role in developing the values of the country’s heritage tourism product. TEF has disbursed some $586 million over the last four years to the industry.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, pointed out that the Port Royal project was a joint effort between ministries and agencies.
“Increasingly, we are seeing visitors who want to know and understand the history, culture and the people they visit – this town is perfect for that kind of experience,” Miss Grange noted.
The Port Royal project resulted from the Ministry of Tourism’s thrust to develop heritage tourism and diversify Jamaica’s world acclaimed tourism products. It involves restoration of key monuments in the historical town.