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Kingston, Jamaica: December 17, 2012 – The drive to see Port Antonio reassert its status as a major resort town has received a boost with the recent presentation of more than $4 million by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill.
The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), an agency of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment provided a cheque of $4.4 million, which the minister handed to His Worship, the Mayor of Portland, Councillor Benny White, and one valued at $231,000, which was presented to President of the Rio Grande raft captains, Leroy Miller during a brief ceremony at the Craft Village. In so doing, he was making good on a promise made to assist in the renovation of key tourism facilities when he had toured the town on October 31 of this year, a few days following the passage of Hurricane Sandy over the island.
On presenting the funds the minister acknowledged to the group that Portland is where tourism began in Jamaica. He pointed out that some things in Portland such as rafting were iconic, and needed to be preserved. “Portland is the home of rafting, it is unique to Jamaica, so we must ensure that the standard of what we have here is maintained at a certain level,” he said.
In October, he had highlighted the attention to be given to both the Craft Village and Neville Antonio Park which are to be renovated. The Craft Village is intended to be functional by this Christmas through remedial work to clear and secure the grounds. Plans for the medium to long term include the building of a sea wall along with major sewage work at the facility. The Neville Antonio Park is to undergo general restoration work. This includes refurbishing the amphitheatre, restrooms, and fencing, as well as landscaping and the erection of a stage.
Accompanying the Minister through the town were State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Damion Crawford, members of the Resort Board, representatives of TEF, the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), other Ministry and government officials, and representatives of community groups. Apart from the Craft Village, other sites viewed were Trident Hotel and Castle, Blue Lagoon, and Gee Jam.
The renovation project in Port Antonio is to be undertaken by TPDCo.