PORTLAND: Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has announced plans to renovate key tourism related facilities in Portland as the parish recovers from the impact of Hurricane Sandy. He made the announcement after visiting Portland recently to view the impact of the storm on the parish’s tourism product.
Dr. McNeill toured sections of the parish along with State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, Damion Crawford; members of the Resort Board, representatives of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), other ministry and government officials, and representatives of community groups.
“As we visited sections of the parish, it was clear that despite the effects of the storm, the tourism partners are passionate about forging forward and improving the tourism product,” said McNeill. “I am pleased that the community here has moved very quickly to get things going again.”
Among the tourism related sites that were visited were the Ken Jones Aerodrome, Sommerset Falls, Neville Antonio Park, the Craft Village and Rafter’s Rest.
McNeill announced that the Neville Antonio Park and the Craft Village will be renovated shortly under a project being undertaken by TPDCo through funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
“We’ve had some discussions about the Neville Antonio Park and the Craft Village, and arrived at an agreement on the way forward and the strategy that we will employ in the immediate future to get these facilities operating at an acceptable standard,” he said.
For the immediate future the plans entail having the Craft Village functional before Christmas of this year. In order to achieve this, remedial work will be done and the grounds cleared and secured. 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 including the refurbishment of the amphitheatre, restrooms and fencing as well as landscaping and the erection of a stage.
“We intend to restore the Neville Antonio Park so that it can be used to stage cultural performances and live entertainment, which would benefit both locals and visitors alike,” said McNeill.
The Minister said Portland’s tourism product needs sustainable long term development.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of the long term development of Portland as a tourist destination and we are examining ways in which we at the ministry can work with the local community groups and the Resort Board to get this done,” said McNeill.