Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett wants management systems instituted for heritage sites and community places across Jamaica before money is spent in the future to rehabilitate these sites, which according to him, often end up requiring further restoration work.
He made the call on Thursday at the official launch of the restored Holland Bamboo Scenic Avenue in St Elizabeth. The launch took place at Holland Primary School located along the four kilometer stretch of road.
“I’m not happy with the way so much of our dollars have been given in their rightful place to enrich communities and improve sustainability. We spend millions of dollars on heritage sites across Jamaica that are falling into disrepair, and we spend millions of dollars in community centers and playgrounds across Jamaica, helping to enrich communities, and when you get there pass, they are in ruins,” Bartlett said.
“We’ve built many beach improvement facilities across Jamaica, and when you go there, months later, they’re in disrepair again. This needs to stop…we’re going to insist that the management systems and structures are in place prior to the implementation of any of these investment projects that we have,” Bartlett added.
His comments were made in light of a recommendation from Floyd Green, MP for St Elizabeth South Western, for the construction of a scenic park for the benefit of visitors traveling along Holland Bamboo Avenue.
“For us, Holland Bamboo has always been our most iconic place. We need a park in the community, and we don’t just want people to come and take pictures and move on; we want a place where they can stop, learn the history of bamboo and cool off,” Green said at the launch.
In the meantime, while acknowledging that tourism can only succeed by working hand-in-hand with other sectors, Bartlett noted that some of the money visitors pay when they come to Jamaica goes to to pay to improve and enhance the local tourist experience.
“Tourists (contribute) $20 off their ticket price to help Jamaican tourism grow, and it’s out of the $20 that every tourist pays when they come to Jamaica that we’re growing these enhanced activities across Jamaica “Bartlett said.
“When they [tourists] come here, they need to feel good and that their money has also been well spent, and our taxpayers who bear the burden of creating the infrastructure that allows guests to move seamlessly around Jamaica also need to feel that their money is well spent.
Restoration work on Holland Bamboo Avenue, one of Jamaica’s heritage sites, began last September and cost $8.5 million, funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund. The work was necessitated by the thinning of bamboo strands due to hurricane damage, as well as recent fires that damaged several bamboo roots and plants.
Holland Bamboo Avenue was established in the mid-1700s by English planter John Gladstone, the father of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone.