JIS News

Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Ian Neita, has given the assurance that the Fund will continue to lend its support to the Rio Nuevo Battle Site Museum to ensure its viability.
Mr. Neita was speaking on behalf of the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett at the official opening of the museum on yesterday (July 18).
“It was far from difficult for the TEF to respond to the request made by the Rio Nuevo Battle Site Association and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) to add a museum to the site. While the battle site has always been suitable to host events or simply for people to view the grounds, the idea of a museum instantly elevated the site to a position of a world class attraction,” Mr. Neita said. He noted that the establishment of the facility was ideal as it would give students and teachers the opportunity to enhance their educational experience through experiential learning.
“We are happy that in the Rio Nuevo Museum, visitors to Jamaica will have one new attraction to visit and leave with a rich history. We chose to invest in attractions such as this museum in order to protect Jamaica from competition. Islands like Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Barbados have a rich cultural heritage and so do we. They have capitalised on that heritage to build their tourism and so must we,” he said.
Mr. Neita stated that the facility will seek to introduce visitors to another side of Jamaica, stressing heritage tourism as being a very important part of the Ministry’s marketing strategy.
“For this facility, the Tourism Enhancement Fund has provided a grant of $6.8 million,” he informed, noting that the TEF was also working with the JNHT on a number of other projects to include the Seville Heritage Site in St. Ann’s Bay and Fort Charles in Port Royal.
Turning to the Seville Heritage Site he informed that, “the project on which we are embarking is an entire rehabilitation programme costing $60 million in the first phase. The plan calls for conversion of old coach houses and restaurants. We will also be restoring a 16th century castle on the property, developing a visitor arrival centre and creating facilities for gift shops and a craft village.” Work on the project will start next month and will continue over two years.
He further said that a restoration of Fort Charles should see to the signage and stabilisation of the ‘Giddy House’, which is a living monument to the great earthquake of 1692 that buried much of Port Royal.
“We are proud to be associated with the Heritage Trust, the Culture Health Arts Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund and the Rio Nuevo Battle Site Association,” Mr. Neita said, urging Jamaicans to work together to make the country the preferred choice of heritage tourism.
Meanwhile, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Local Government and Member of Parliament for Western St. Mary, Hon. Robert Montague, congratulated the Rio Nuevo Battle Site Association on its efforts to establish the museum.
“The opening of a museum is something that is wonderful in the life and history of a people and it is a tribute to those who went before us and their contribution. We hope that the school children of St. Mary and Jamaica and the wider Caribbean will make use of the facilities that are here,” Mr. Montague said.
In her address, President of the Rio Nuevo Battle Site Association, Enid Mitchell, said that she was pleased with the support and hard work of the citizens in making the project a reality.
“This is the moment we have been waiting for. Thanks to the Tourism Enhancement Fund for making this possible and thanks to the CHASE Fund for funding the bathrooms and the walkways with wheel chair access,” she said, adding that the Association will be working assiduously to ensure that the venue is advertised across Jamaica.

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