ONLINE READERS' COMMENT: As visitors we need access to beaches

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Dear Editor,

We are 30+ yearly long term (2- 3 months) regular visitors to Ocho Rios. We love the beach and fly thousands of miles to get here. Every year we contribute to your economy as we shop in your stores, farmers and craft markets, eat in your restaurants, go on tours etc.

Our biggest problem is being able to get to that beach which is ironically right under our noses- so near and yet so far away!

We would therefore appreciate if the UDC could make some concession in our situation during all these phases of the Ocho Rios Beach and Walkway construction. Our winter homes are in Turtle Beach Towers, Fisherman's Point and Sandcastles.

During this slow and never-ending project we have to exit through the Turtle Beach Towers front gate and then walk towards the ship customs area, then turn right towards the marina and finally down the phase 1 walkway that has finally been completed.

Our second choice is to walk all the way down Main Street through town and through the main Beach Gate. Needless to say, this is a real bad choice as there are crowds of people from the cruise ships all trying to walk at the same time on these narrow sidewalks. There, is also a congestion of numerous taxi drivers, and buses weaving in and out of traffic!

This is also a slow construction area as half of the road and sidewalks are blocked. It is also a very dangerous area for people crossing as the cars come speeding down from the main road that bypasses Main Street.

Another concern that I would like to address is regarding the next phase of the proposed construction plans that UDC has for Ocho Rios Beach. I see that a Very BIG chunk of the land is allocated to Moon Palace and obviously includes Rooms on the Beach which has been an affordable hotel to many of us in the past years!

If Moon Palace renovates/ builds something on that land I hope its affordable and not another $600/night hotel! It's no wonder there's hardly any tourists staying there, at least not like the bustling Jamaica Grande days! I cringe at the thought of how long it takes an average Jamaican to make this kind of money! It's an unfair world when wealthier people can throw away this kind of money for a night's accommodation!

However, I am concerned also for our numerous hard working family and friends who come to Jamaica for 2 or 3 weeks and stay at Rooms on the Beach. To them and likewise to so many Jamaicans that come up from Kingston as well as surrounding areas, this hotel is still affordable!

I also worry that Moon Palace will try to prevent us from being able to walk the beach in front of their facilities! Even now we have to plead with their security to let us walk the beach that we pay good money to get to! This is really sad if unacceptable to say the least!

This year we have been very tolerant and very inconvenienced! In the 42 years of coming to Jamaica - the island we love - we have seen it all!

However, these are our retirement years and what we are asking for is very little; comfort, convenience and respect!

Having read the Tourism Minister's article recently regarding the future of Jamaica tourismI would like him to know that quite a few of us are already here - Every year! Loyaly! Our families and friends visit as they feel safe and secure knowing we are here! As They say - Our families will tell their friends, their friends will tell their friends - and so this becomes the best advertising Jamaica can have!

If he really cares he should work on guaranteeing all of us- the Jamaican people that love their beach, and all of us regular long term visitors the ability to have access to all of it!

M&M Perko




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