The resort city of Montego Bay is to undergo a major transformation of its seafront, as part of efforts to boost its global appeal and competitiveness. Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett yesterday announced in Parliament, a comprehensive upgrading programme for Montego Bay, including the Hip Strip.
Terming it a reimagining of Montego Bay, Minister Bartlett said the mega transformation plan, which was developed in 2009 “includes physical improvements, new product development, heavy landscaping and pedestrianizing of the area.”
While making his Sectoral Debate closing presentation, Minister Bartlett explained that most of the improvements will come after the completion of the transportation and road improvement network and that “it will be anchored by various private sector developments which are being planned along the entire strip.” He added that “there are also specific concepts being developed to address safety and security, visitor access and mobility, as well as themed entertainment and recreation.”
Minister Bartlett said: “The upgrading is to be undertaken by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and an allocation of $150 million has been budgeted for the current fiscal year to commence preliminary work for the project, which will facilitate a major transformation.”
Transformation of the Hip Strip will be complemented by what Minister Bartlett said will be several private sector funded developments that are set to come on-stream, including a 13-storey mixed use facility for hotel usage, residences and entertainment, to be built by a Jamaican investor and opens up the local EP hotel offering.
Mr. Bartlett told Parliament: “We are proud that the industry of tourism is getting to that point of inclusiveness where any and every one of us can have a chance and a stake at the level of what this brother is seeking to do.”
While expounding on plans for the development of the entire area, he said “we have already seen the result of a very successful partnership between the TEF and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in the development of the Harmony Beach Park in Montego Bay, which will soon be complemented by private and public sector led development throughout the area including Catherine Hall, Kent Avenue, Freeport and surrounding areas.”
He explained that under this initiative the Ministry of Tourism and the UDC was working on a programme for Catherine Hall and the building out of the promenade from the cruise terminal at Montego Freeport, going along the seafront to join onto the recently opened Harmony Beach Park.
Also, there will be a façade, as well as an entertainment park created from the beach park to “Deadend”, next door to the Sangster International Airport at the end of Jimmy Cliff Boulevard. “It is envisaged that in this we will have an entertainment development area; we will ensure that the access to craft development and artisan activities will be there within that space along with the fisher folk and a proper fisherman’s village similar to that done in Ocho Rios,” Mr. Bartlett disclosed.
Completion of this project will give Montego Bay a complete tourism experience with cruise, entertainment, art and craft, fisherfolk activity, complemented by leisure activities including a city walk. It is also expected to generate hundreds of jobs and a long term multiplier effect for the benefit of the western city and the wider Jamaica.
Minister Bartlett envisages the Hip Strip project elevating Montego Bay to the level of first-class destinations around the world, rivaling the likes of South Beach, Miami. He stressed that this was being done for Jamaicans and residents of Montego Bay in particular, but with the expectation that visitors will want to enjoy them also.