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$17-m sign review

Thursday, November 22, 2018

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The tourism ministry yesterday said that a full review of the costs associated with the budgeted amount for the 'Welcome to Montego Bay' sign has been ordered by Minister Ed Bartlett.

In addition, the ministry said that private sector interests in the tourist resort city, including some members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have committed $5 million to the project which has been attracting mounting public criticism after it was revealed that it was costing taxpayers $17 million.

“With the input of the private sector, Government's financial input will be significantly reduced,” the ministry said in a news release in which it added that the review is to be conducted by the permanent secretary in the ministry.

“We believe that this welcome sign will be a significant addition to the allure and prestige of the city of Montego Bay,” the ministry release quotes prominent businessman John Byles, who explained the reason for the private sector's financial support of the project. “The city represents the heartbeat of tourism and deserves a monument that will be fitting for our guests and locals, and as such we are more than willing to help mitigate the costs to erect it.”

Bartlett, in welcoming private sector support, said, “What this means is that we will not stand the full cost of executing this critical showpiece for the hub of our tourism activities. As I have indicated before, this is more than simply a sign; this will be a conversation piece for years to come.”

According to the ministry, the “new sign is expected to be an attraction for the millions of visitors as well as locals who traverse that busy thoroughfare. The development also falls within the extension of the Eastern Gateway Project, which is a series of beautification works running west along the Elegant Corridor from Greenwood to the MBJ Sangster International Airport roundabout.”

The project is being executed by the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd with funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.

“The sign is a tropical contemporary interpretation of a traditional resort along a bay. It has a lighting component where the letters will be illuminated and are changeable to match the seasons. It is not just a concrete wall, but a modern façade meant to be a thing of beauty,” the tourism ministry said.

“The area will also be landscaped and an irrigation component has been included to ensure the long-term stability of this component. To ensure the safety of road users, visible yield signs are being replaced, other safety features include the installation of speed strips and the refreshing of road markings,” the ministry added.

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