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The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), on October 10, unveiled five signboards in Montego Bay St. James, as part of the organisation’s “Jamaica Heritage Trail” Project.
The signboards, which have been erected at strategic points throughout the resort city, display significant details highlighting Montego Bay’s and St. James’ rich history. The project was undertaken in collaboration with the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
Addressing a press conference at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel, prior to the unveiling of the signs, JNHT Executive Director, Laleta Davis-Mattis, explained that the signs are among the first of 15, which will be erected during the project’s first phase.
“The signs are placed on verges right across the country, and the start of the project, really, is on the North Coast. The focus, of course, is where the Spanish hotels (are located), most of our sponsors are the Spanish hotels, which also form part of the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation. The signs are located in strategic places, where you can drive off the road, look at them, and do your photos, etc,” she outlined.
Mrs. Davis-Mattis pointed out that while the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation is a major partner, the signs are, and will not be restricted to Jamaica’s Spanish heritage.
Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, Jesus Silva, in a brief address during the press conference, said the Foundation’s input is based on the need seen by its members, to assist in facilitating the promotion of other attractions forming part Jamaica’s tourism product, apart from the traditional sun, sand, and sea.
“The companies which are represented in the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation, have felt that there is an interest and a need from the side of their clients, especially the European clients who come for longer periods, of also having the possibility of getting to know some more about the country, about its history, and about the important places… the heritage places of this country,” he stated.
The Ambassador disclosed that signs have already been erected in New Seville and Runaway Bay in St. Ann, adding that Montego Bay’s signs have been sponsored by four private Spanish investors and one non-Spanish company, Rose Hall Developments Limited.
Describing the project as “very enriching for the tourism industry of the country”, Ambassador Silva expressed the hope that the first phase will be completed by December, and that the second phase will commence shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, speaking at the press conference, highlighted the level of co-operation, which has developed between the Spanish investors and the Jamaican Government over the years, stating that “it has been a symbol of how investment and host countries ought to operate in the mutual development of the particular products in which they are intertwined.”
He said that the Spanish investments in Jamaica have provided the tourism product, which has been the focal point, with more than a shot in the arm.
“We have had well over half a billion dollars of investments in the last five years, and certainly our tourism arrivals, the records that we had last year and the figures even to today, we are still… ahead of last year by some five percent, are, in part, due to the robust inflows that we have had from the Spanish properties during the last two years,” he informed.
The Minister also said that the increased inflow of Canadian tourists to the island over the last two years, is attributable to the direct impact of Spanish investments on the island.