Lucea time?

Bartlett again voices development plans for north- western town; residents impatient

Observer West writer

Thursday, May 23, 2019

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LUCEA, Hanover — Stakeholders in Hanover say they are becoming increasingly impatient with the long delay for the promised development of the sleepy town of Lucea, the capital of Hanover, particularly the historic Fort Charlotte.

“The development for Lucea is long overdue. Too many promises have been made and not kept,” said a seemingly disappointed chairperson of the Lucea Development Initiative, Nerris Hawthorne.

Hawthorne was responding to a recent pronouncement by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett that Lucea is currently on the government's radar for development within the tourism industry.

“Lucea is very much on our radar. Lucea port is very important, and I am not at liberty to say everything on that, but the prime minister [Andrew Holness] and I have had long discussions about Lucea, and in short order, I believe, we will be visiting Lucea in relation to some ideas about building out a stronger tourism experience in the town of Lucea,” said Bartlett.

The minister was responding to questions raised by the Jamaica Observer West with regard to several promises made to develop the historic town.

Lucea sits on a beautiful harbour 25 miles west of Montego Bay and is located between that city and Negril - two of the Caribbean's most renowned tourist resort areas. Yet for many years, talks to devise strategies on how to capitalise on the thousands of tourists who pass through the town annually have failed to bear fruit.

The town also, is home to a national harbour, which decades ago facilitated the export of banana and molasses. To the north-east of the Lucea Harbour is one of the country's largest hotel, the Grand Palladium Resorts, located at Point.

Bartlett said focus will be placed on the rehabilitation of historic sites, including Fort Charlotte, and establishing new attractions.

He noted that Fort Charlotte “is beautifully positioned in terms of a vantage point to Grand Palladium.”

“Fort Charlotte is a dream ready to be made a reality, and we are excited about it. So, I want to say that in the whole business of reimagining the [tourist] destinations, Lucea is definitely on the cards,” said an upbeat Bartlett.

Fort Charlotte was built in the mid-18th century by the British for the defence of the North-Western section of the island during the reign of King George III of England. It was named after his consort, Charlotte. The fort, now in ruins, was built with barracks capable of housing 50 men. It had 23 embrasures for 23 guns, 20 of which were mounted.

Bartlett said the planned construction of a bypass for Lucea will open up new avenues for tourism expansion.

“When the bypass road comes Lucea is going to become a discreet community for which we can now build out a number of the cultural assets that are there and to highlight the unique values of Lucea,” he noted.

But Hawthorne, who is also the president of the Rotary Club of Lucea, pointed out that several announcements have previously been made about the development of Fort Charlotte, but to date they have failed to materialise.

“We are impatient and if there is anyone serious about the development of Fort Charlotte, it is high time that they come forth,” she stressed.

Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels told the Observer West that he too is excited about the planned development, but argued that he would like to hear concrete plans.

The mayor too, is fully aware of several previous announcements about the proposed development for Lucea.

In September 2014, for instance, then Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill promised that the Tourism Enhancement Fund would assist with restoring the Fort Charlotte. Then a year later, then Mayor of Lucea, Wynter McIntosh, announced that the TEF is to fund a $100 million project to establish an attraction there.

And during the former Jamaica Labour Party- administration in 2008, Bartlett, who was also the tourism minister at the time, stated that plans were afoot for the town to be designated a resort destination which would give Lucea certain privileges and will also allow for the tourism ministry to look at the resort's planning development, which other resort towns are getting.

Meanwhile, Hawthorne has made it clear that no development should be undertaken in the town before meetings are held with various stakeholders and key persons.

“We are calling on the authorities, those holding the money, to meet with stakeholders in the town so that we can have an input into whatever is going to happen,” she stressed.


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