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South coast improvement plans in motion

Thursday, February 20, 2014 | 6:48 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Community-based tourism is to take centre stage in St Elizabeth and Westmoreland with several places of interest and green areas slated to be upgraded or developed as part of the Tourism Ministry's thrust to enhance the offerings of the two south coast parishes.

The areas slated for improvement include the Goshen Sports Complex in St Elizabeth which, according to a release from the ministry, is to be equipped for use as a community training centre and will facilitate training in tourism and hospitality.

Improvements will also be made to a travel halt at Braes River in the parish for use by tourists and Jamaicans alike, who visit attractions in the area, such as the Appleton Rum Tour. Plans are also afoot to develop an interactive museum at a historic burial ground located in Carmel, which was the site of the first Moravian Missionary Settlement in the island.

In Westmoreland, the ministry said work is already under way on the Bethel Town Green Area, which is being upgraded to provide green space for people to jog and interact. A pathway is being constructed and landscaping work is slated to be completed in a few weeks. The ministry also said that plans are being finalised to upgrade the botanical gardens in Darliston.

“We often talk about community tourism but it will not develop by itself. Over the last year we have been going into communities and talking to persons and the awareness in growing. People are coming back to us with community tourism projects they wish to develop and now we are moving to implement several of them,” said Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill.

“We are working very closely with various MPs to prioritise their tourism projects and we are also looking at what we can do with the parish councils,” the minister added while touring sections of St Elizabeth and Westmoreland Wednesday with state minister in the Transport & Works ministry Richard Azan; Member of Parliament for North Eastern St Elizabeth, Raymond Pryce; officials from both ministries, and representatives of state agencies.

The tour was aimed at providing a first-hand view of the community-based tourism projects currently under consideration.

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