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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; July 31, 2017: Having spent $2.8 billion from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) in the Montego Bay area over the last ten years, the Ministry of Tourism is ploughing an additional $1.2 billion over the next four years to enhance the physical appearance of the resort town.
The Ministry’s commitment to support Montego Bay as the island’s largest resort area and the fastest growing city in the Caribbean was spelt out by Tourism Minister, Hon Edmund Bartlett on Friday (July 28, 2017), at the Royal Decameron Hotel. The Invest Mobay breakfast forum hosted by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and industry, looked at “Unlocking the Opportunities in Tourism - Reviving the Hip Strip.”
With the money being provided by TEF, through development agencies such as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), “we’re going to be reconfiguring the entire area from Dump Up Beach straight through to Dead End, which includes the Hip Strip” said Minister Bartlett. The area earmarked spans the coastline from Pier 1, going east along Howard Cooke Boulevard, Gloucester Avenue and Kent Avenue.
Underscoring the importance of partnerships, he said “the private and public sectors together have combined to create a new-look experience that is going to define a new attraction and indeed a new presence of Montego Bay in the global tourism market,” said the minister.
Among the projects to be funded by TEF are $600 million for the creation of a closed harbour park, $35 million to resurface the road from Summit Police Station on Sunset Boulevard to Dead End on Kent Avenue. Also, utility wires along the Hip Strip will be relocated underground.
Montego Bay’s streets are also receiving attention, with $60 million provided by TEF to be spent by November through the municipal corporation. As part of this programme, further attention will be given to the airport round-about.
Underlying what is being done, Minister Bartlett said that, “Jamaica and Montego Bay must become the centre of beauty and aesthetic in the Caribbean.” To further this cause, landscaping of the Elegant Corridor, east from the airport to Greenwood, will be done at a cost of $252 million. The Flanker community is also listed among projects to be undertaken with a special $40 million programme on the drawing table.
At the same time, the Montego Bay Convention Center is being refurbished at a cost of $200 million “to make it fit for purpose” in time for the UNWTO World Conference on Sustainable Tourism November 27 to 29, this year and further afield, water distribution for communities around Montego Bay is to be improved with $120 million provided by TEF. A contract was signed on Thursday (July 27, 2017) with Rural Water Supply, to expand the Canaan source, to improve distribution to communities such as Orange, Irwin Heights, Johns Hall and Amity Hall.
Also, the communities of Lilliput, Grange Pen, Greenwood and Barrett Hall will be able to access electricity supply legally with the implementation of a $125 million squatter upgrading and Rural Electrification Programme.
Minister Bartlett said, though all this effort augured well for the improvement of social and physical infrastructure, while building out the economic framework for the development of the Montego Bay community, more needed to be done and the Ministry of Tourism was working with the Ministry of National Security on addressing penal reconstruction along safety and security.
Minister Bartlett informed the forum that, as the most important tourism city in the English-speaking Caribbean, Montego Bay represented some 35 percent of the national tourism product and with a national target of the industry earning US$5 billion by 2021 Montego Bay should be providing 20 percent of that.