JIS News

The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has approved $255 million for the rehabilitation and beautification of some of the island’s landmarks and heritage tourism sites.
Executive Director of TEF, Ian Neita, told JIS News that money has been allocated to improve some of the island’s top heritage sites, in order to boost heritage tourism and enhance the overall tourism product and visitor experience.
He noted that one of the major projects that the Fund has financed is the restoration and beautification of Devon House in Kingston, at a cost of $92 million.
“We commenced with the landscaping and development of a car park that would properly facilitate events; restoration of the irrigation system to support the landscaping that we undertook; installation of park benches; and the planting of a number of plants throughout the property,” he outlined.
Phase Two of the project focussed on reroofing the mansion and repairing its interior, to restore its authenticity in keeping with the period that it was constructed.
“We have intervened in a number of areas that will enhance the revenue of Devon House, with the aim of making it self-sufficient and able to work at a profit,” Mr. Neita pointed out.
He also noted that to aid the process, the Fund will finance the construction of a green house for the development of plants, for Devon House’s own use and for sale.
Additionally, the Devonshire will be outfitted with audio-visual equipment and internet technology, to facilitate meetings.
To further enhance the visitor experience and boost heritage tourism, TEF has allocated $72 million for the renovation and beautification of Port Royal. The scope of work includes the redevelopment of Fort Charles, the old naval hospital and the ‘giddy house’.
“We have restored the two museums, Fort Charles, the look-out towers and braced the giddy-house,” he explained.
He said that an audio-visual room has been created and a documentary on Port Royal developed for visitors to learn more about the town’s history.
Additionally, TEF approved $60 million for renovation of the Seville Great House, St. Ann. Works will include the restoration of the plantation and coach houses, the stabilisation of the Spanish Castle site, placement of appropriate signage on the site, improvement of the access road and development of a conservation plan for the site.
Mr. Neita said that the project has gone to tender and is expected to be completed in 18-24 months.
Highlighting other projects, he said that some $24 million has been allocated for the renovation and restoration of historical sites and buildings in Spanish Town, and an additional $6.8 million for repairs to the Rio Nuevo Battle site in St. Mary. This includes the creation of a visitor arrival centre, provision of exhibition cases for storing artefacts and the installation of air-conditioning units and other amenities on the property.
“This initiative can help in boosting heritage tourism, as more and more people are interested in travelling to places where they can learn about the history and the people. It is also a way of diversifying our product, because the traditional sand and sea can be replicated just about anywhere,” the Executive Director noted.
TEF was established in 2005 with fees collected from visitors to the island. The funds are used to finance projects that are intended to enhance the tourism product.

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