- The $400 million project is slated to get underway in September
- Vendors in the area will be catered for in the renovation process
Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Clyde Harrison, says that the rehabilitation work to be undertaken in Ocho Rios will not only improve the aesthetics of the resort town, but also enhance economic activity for vendors and other business people.
“In Ocho Rios, if we were able to change the landscape, as we are planning, then the impact will be increased economic activity and benefits and that would be to all. The tourists would enjoy the environment more, as it would be prettier for them, but also the business activity in the area would definitely balloon,” he stated.
Mr. Harrison was speaking at a JIS Think Tank held on July 18, at the agency’s head offices on Half-Way-Tree Road.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, first provided details of the $400 million project, which is slated to get underway in September, during his Sectoral presentation earlier this month.
The TEF is funding the project, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ).
The Ocho Rios project, which is expected to be completed in 2014, will encompass the area between the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa and the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Pier.
“We are trying to get to the standard of other ports, which we are competing with, so we are going to renovate the pier building itself, we are going to renovate the walkways and we are going to make them exciting to look at and give a comfortable feeling to walk once you exit the ship, and we are going to renovate the parking areas also,” he said.
Mr. Harrison said that the roadway from the cruise ship pier and Turtle River Road, and back to Main Street, will be narrowed and converted in one lane, which will give the visitors a “tropical walk-way”.
“In the long run, we will be going up Main Road, up to Jamaica Grande and we will be going along the beach on the promenade…It is projected that the beach will be enhanced…to pull (visitors) off the ship and into the town for activities,” he stated.
Mr. Harrison informed that vendors in the area will be catered for in the renovation process, and consultations have been undertaken with the various stakeholders to ensure that everyone is in agreement with the proposed developments.
The other projects being undertaken by the TEF include: the lighting of the Elegant Corridor in Montego Bay; construction of bicycle tracks and pedestrian pathways along the Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril; and work in Port Royal to involve the rehabilitation of the Naval Hospital and the creation of a museum to house the many valuable artefacts that have been recovered from the sea over the years.
Mr. Harrison said the TEF is focussed on funding sustainable projects across the island.
“Over the years, we have been doing projects and we have not necessarily focussed on the sustainability of those projects. We have gone into the next phase of thinking now, that we must finance sustainable projects,” he said.
He noted further that, “we are not going to spend and then we have to go back and fix and then we are the only persons spending and fixing, we need everybody to come on board…at the end of the day, we need to have a plan as to how we are going to manage these projects once they are finalised.”