NEGRIL, Westmoreland - The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) has welcomed the announcement by the National Works Agency (NWA) for improvement works to be undertaken in the resort town of Negril, at a cost roughly $100 million.
"We have always been advocating that this sort of work needs to happen,"said JHTA President Evelyn Smith.
"We are glad that it will finally happen and I think that our entire membership in the area (of Negril) is looking forward to the day that we will finally stroll along the sidewalks of Negril."
Smith, who is also a former present of the Negril chapter of the JHTA, was responding to the announcement by the NWA at a meeting with the Negril business community at the Cocolapalm Resort in the resort town recently.
NWA's Chief Executive Officer Everton G Hunter in his address said the improvement works will be undertaken on the Norman Manley Boulevard in the town, and will involve the installation of medians, pedestrian crossings and traffic signals.
He said his agency has already spent $12 million to procure equipment for the traffic signals and materials for the pedestrian crossings.
Another $4 million, he added, will be spent to install the equipment. The installation work is expected to be completed by December 31.
Hunter made it clear that the NWA will be taking great care in implementing the project, in an effort to ensure that the tourism product is not negatively impacted.
"We are going to be within the tourism season, but we give the assurance that the works will be orchestrated in such a manner as not to cause any disturbance to your wonderful tourism product," said Hunter.
He also told the meeting that approximately four kilometres of sidewalks — from the town's square towards Couples Swept Away Resort — will be constructed at a cost of $75 million. He said work will commence in the first quarter of next year and is expected to be completed by June.
Hunter added that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will be collaborating with the NWA to construct more sidewalks later next year.
The Negril chapter of the JHTA, as well as several other business groups, have long called for the upgrading of sidewalks for pedestrians' safety in sections of that resort town.