Big fund to finance tourism

Port Royal will be upgraded.
Port Royal will be upgraded.

KINGSTON — The Tourism Enhancement Fund is to finance four major tourism transformational projects in the resort towns of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril, as well as Port Royal in Kingston, at a cost of $1.2 billion, according to Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill.

The TEF funding is derived from a fee on airline tickets purchased by visitors travelling to Jamaica.

McNeill told the House of Representatives during Tuesday’s Sectoral Debate, as well as yesterday’s weekly Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston, that agreements have been signed and a total of $550 million has been put in place to start the projects. These funds, he added, have already been transferred to the implementing agencies.

The Ocho Rios project, being done in partnership with the Urban Development Corporation and the Port Authority of Jamaica at a cost of $400 million, will see the total refurbishing and upgrading of the Ocho Rios cruise ship terminal, including the facade, and improvements to the parking area.

“What we want is when persons are on the ship and they look down they say they have to come off and visit this port,” McNeill told yesterday’s Jamaica House press briefing, adding that the architectural drawings have been done and all the plans passed.

Under the Ocho Rios project, Turtle River Road is to be reconstructed with new architecture and landscaping, while there will be improvements to Main Street, which will include work to be done on the sidewalks, improved landscaping and new architecture.

“… Also, the boardwalk along the seaside between the (Ocho Rios) cruise ship pier and back to the Jamaica Grande side will be totally refurbished to allow free access to Jamaicans and visitors alike,” McNeill said.

The Montego Bay project, meanwhile, will see the provision of lighting for the “elegant corridor” and is projected to cost $400 million. The project design, said the minister, is already completed for the 27-kilometre-long corridor, which extends from the roundabout at the Sangster International Airport, going east, to Lilliput.

“We will be using LED lights straight from the central power source,” McNeill said.

In the meantime, the Negril project will see the construction of bicycle tracks and pedestrian pathways along the Norman Manley Boulevard in that resort town. With $170 million allocated for this project, the minister said these improvements will encourage greater visitor mobility and safety, promote inclusiveness and stimulate increased spending in small businesses.

“This venture is an extension of the project that is currently underway and is slated to be completed by the first quarter of 2014,” McNeill added. (Observer)

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