Western News

McNeill vows to upgrade Roaring River

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 16, 2012    

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ROARING RIVER, Westmoreland — Tourism and Entertainment Minister Wykeham Mc Neill has vowed to revive the once vibrant Roaring River attraction in Westmoreland, citing the economic benefits that can be derived from the facility.

"I am committed, the member of parliament (Roger Clarke) is committed, the parish council is committed........ we are going to move forward to make something happen here," said McNeill."You can't have 250,000 visitors coming to Negril, hundreds of thousands coming to Montego Bay and have an attraction of this beauty sitting here and you don't have it doing what it should be doing. We are going to make it happen".

The tourism and entertain minister was speaking recently during a tour of the attraction which once boasted gift shops, restaurants which catered to visitors, and bathroom facilities.

He was accompanied by officials from his ministry, including the permanent secretary Jennifer Griffiths; Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, Roger Clarke and councillor for the Petersfield Division, Donald Gordon.

After a tour of the Roaring River Cave and Blue Hole in the community, the team met with area residents who have long expressed concern about the lack of business at the facility.

During the meeting Mc Niel pointed out that the attraction— with its natural cave, lagoon and mineral spring— is of great importance to the tourism product and must operate at a standard where it can deliver economic benefits to the people in the area.

"We are not benefiting from it in the way that we should be benefiting; we have to do something about it," he argued.

The Roaring River Park was constructed by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) about a decade ago, but over the years the amenity has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Last year, operations at the facility came to a halt due to its dilapidated state.

But McNeill argued that reviving the tourism activities in Roaring River forms part of Government's plan to provide attractions aimed at enhancing community tourism.

"We don't want the visitors to just come and stay in a hotel and don't have anywhere to go. If we actually going to reap the benefits from tourism, it means that we want the visitors to go out in the community to spend money and that is what we are going to do. We are going to have the attractions for them to go and see," he explained.

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