St. Thomas to be positioned as premier tourist destination
Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says plans are now underway by his Ministry to develop the parish of St. Thomas as Jamaica’s newest tourism destination.
Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday for Lyssons Beach, in the parish, Minister Bartlett said, “We are currently developing the newest destination in Jamaica – St Thomas. Already we have commissioned a tourism development assessment and spent over $30 million, bringing technical and key skilled planners, designers and tourism destination aficionados – people who understand how to build a destination.”
He further noted: “Tourism development is a means by which we can diversify a local economy, minimize the rural urban drift and drive inclusive and sustainable development. We can agree that the parish of St Thomas needs this at this time. In fact, the Government of Jamaica has targeted the parish for special developmental focus and tourism has been selected as a key driver for that development.
“The tourism destination assessment of the parish was done over the past six months to better understand: the current state of tourism in the parish and options the parish has in respect to the development of its tourism sector. They also assessed methods to best focus its product development and marketing strategies to sustainably develop the destination, while also bringing the greatest benefits to the greatest number of residents.
“They are at the verge of delivering the document to us and I want to make it known that the idea of developing this South Eastern Corridor of the country is that of our Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Michael Holness.
“The developments relate also to an infrastructure development plan, which is to see the alignment and creation of the new highway arrangement that will connect Kingston to Port Antonio along this corridor. This will open up new areas for development. The responsibility I have as Minister of Tourism, however is to make St Thomas a top-class pristine tourism destination,” said the Minister.
The consultations have been widespread among several related government agencies, the private sector and NGOs, taking into account the views of the citizens and even first time visitors to the parish.
The research is detailed and ongoing and as the consultants move into the next phase of preparing a Tourism Destination Development and Management plan, it is the Ministry’s hope that it will position St Thomas as a premier tourist destination within Jamaica’s broader structure of tourism as well as upgrade the readiness of St Thomas to ensure a competitive product.
“While the consultants are still in the field, there are recommendations for several themed catalyst projects in St. Thomas that represent tourism business development opportunities that could be attractive to tourism investors and stimulate inclusive social and economic developments in the parish to the benefit of residents,” said the Minister.