Even as the development of the parish of Trelawny into a sought-after resort is progressing in earnest, Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett is expressing displeasure with the state of sections of the town capital, Falmouth. Declaring that “we have to fix the town of Falmouth,” Minister Bartlett said a proper public education program has to be carried out in the town to foster public order.
The Minister undertook an extensive walk-through of the town recently and underscored the need for improvements to the area. He was emphatic that “the streets problem has to be dealt with, and I am going to drive that force as much as we can to make sure that it is dealt with. You can’t have Jamaicans moving around trying to peddle their wares in a toxic environment.”
The walkthrough formed part of a tour of sites in Trelawny and its environs, including Old Folly; the Falmouth Cruise Terminal; Water Square; as well as the Trelawny Parish Church, and ended with a meeting with stakeholders at Falmouth Mystic Lagoon Tours. The activities come amid efforts by the Ministry of Tourism and its public bodies to boost destination assurance across the island.
Minister Bartlett has committed to working with the Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor Colin Gager, and other stakeholders in making representation for the relevant agencies to step in and assist in improving the conditions as well as effecting urgently needed repairs to the historic town hall and court house which have been compromised by issues including aging. This has forced the relocation of the courtroom and offices of the municipality.
Mr. Bartlett also had discussions with representatives of the more than 227-year-old Trelawny Parish Church, one of the town’s historic landmarks, which he described as “an absolute treasure and an architectural delight but is now in a state of disrepair and we have to deal with that.” It is also a major heritage attraction for visitors to Falmouth.
The Minister outlined that the Falmouth Cruise Terminal will be having larger vessels visiting, while Old Folly is receiving attention from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo). Following an examination of the area, Minister Bartlett said steps would be taken for it to be enhanced even more.
TPDCo had erected a gazebo at Old Folly and added a few other elements. However, the Tourism Minister believes that given its amazing view, with further improvements, the location could become a major point of interest for visitors and fuel economic activity that will benefit the average Jamaican. TPDCo has been tasked with executing the additional improvement work.
PRIVATE-PUBLIC SECTOR PARTNERSHIP
He has also suggested that a private-public sector partnership for its maintenance, similar to that embodied in a memorandum of understanding signed on Thursday for the upkeep of the Mammee Bay Waterwheel in St. Ann, would be ideal for that location as well.
Giving a synopsis of development in Trelawny, Minister Bartlett said currently, the parish had 4,000 rooms, another 4,000 set to come on stream in the next five to ten years, including the reopening of the Braco Village.
“We are in the process of fine-tuning an arrangement with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which owns the property, to bring Braco Village back in line and hope to have it back in operation by winter of 23/24,” said Mr. Bartlett.
Discussions are also ongoing for 1,000 new rooms in the first instance for Harmony Cove, “and the arrangements are now fully advanced for the hotel to come on track,” stated Minister Bartlett. Likewise, he said the new Riu hotel will add 750 rooms next to Royalton, and a recent discussion with TUI is expected to result in at least another 700 rooms in that location.
On top of these, Minister Bartlett said villas are on the drawing board for Silver Sand and Duncans Bay.