Port Antonio to get special attention

Thursday, December 29, 2016

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Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says increased focus is being placed on Port Antonio, which he said is an untapped market with vast potential.

He said the ministry has been pushing Port Antonio in the marketplace and the response has been very encouraging.

"We are very big on Port Antonio and its high-end potential," Bartlett said. "If we go back to the 1960s where it used to be the happy hunting ground of the Hollywood high rollers, Port Antonio has always had that charm and mystique that you will not find anywhere else," he pointed out.

Minister Bartlett was speaking to JIS News following a meeting with tourism stakeholders at the Pier One on the Waterfront restaurant in Montego Bay, St. James, recently.

He pointed out that Port Antonio has some of the finest natural attractions in the country and is tailor-made for European visitors, who are usually in Jamaica for long vacations.

He said the town has an "unmistakable uniqueness" that makes it very attractive to thrill and adventure seekers.

He cited the Nonsuch Caves, Somerset and Reach falls, Boston Jerk Centre, and the Blue Lagoon as some of the attractions that the destination-management companies find very appealing.

There is also Rio Grande rafting, Winnifred Beach, San San Beach, Folly Ruins, Navy Island and the potential for surfing in the Long Bay area, he pointed out.

Bartlett said that high on the agenda in 2017 will be the staging of a coffee festival in the Buff Bay valley, noting that this could be an attractive draw to get visitors into Portland.

"Our Blue Mountain Coffee is the best in the world," he said. "It is now an international brand that is popular with coffee drinkers worldwide and could be a huge pull factor for Jamaica on a whole. We are far advanced with discussions for the staging of this annual coffee festival, which the Jamaica Tourist Board will make an integral part of its calendar of events," he told JIS News.

The tourism minister said that Port Antonio also stands to benefit tremendously from the planned expansion to the Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel, St Mary.

"Previously, the usual complaint was that the ride into Port Antonio was just too long, especially for travellers coming from faraway destinations," Bartlett pointed out.

"With the planned expansion to the runway at Ian Fleming, where some of the bigger planes such as the Learjet can now be accommodated, Port Antonio stands to be a clear winner," he said.

Bartlett added that the cruise business is also set to pick up in Port Antonio, noting that there are plans to get the smaller boutique vessels into the resort town on a more regular basis.

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