US$21 million boost for Ocho Rios

OCHO RIOS, Jamaica: During the next five years, Ocho Rios will benefit from major infrastructural development that will result in the establishment of new tourism products over a five-year period.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the development, costing some J$1.8 billion (US$21 million), is part of plans by his ministry to ensure that the tourism product is greatly enhanced and that Jamaica maintains its image as having more attractions than all of the Caribbean combined.

“We have taken a serious look at some of the critical areas of decay in the Ocho Rios area,” said Bartlett. “We have focused primarily on the areas of sanitation and what contributes to what I call ‘the uglyfication’ of the town of Ocho Rios. We have also looked at some new developments for the town, one of which is the Artisan Village, a new concept in not only merchandising the creative products of our people, but also creating a setting for the creation of one-of-a-kind products.”

He said an artisan village, which will cost J$1 billion (US$11.6 million), will be an important addition to the infrastructure of the town in the northern parish of St. Ann.

“We will be spending some J$80 million (US$934,000) in improving the general look and condition of the Ocho Rios town itself over the next eight months. I have allocated J$1 million (US$11,675) just for the maintenance of the drains on a weekly basis,” Bartlett said.

The tourism minister said it was not the responsibility of government to maintain Ocho Rios in a clean and pristine condition, but that of the people. He called on the wider business community to take up that challenge.

“The people in the town have to buy into it and take that responsibility. We can come in and put up the $80 million to fix up the sidewalks and to clean drains and to bush the area and generally give it an appearance of beauty, but it cannot be sustained unless the community buys into it and stop throwing the garbage all over the place,” he said.

Bartlett said that the Anti Litter Act must be enforced to prevent persons from disposing of their garbage inappropriately.

Supporting Bartlett’s call for persons to keep the town clean, Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Shahine Robinson described the planned development as “good news”.

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