MoBay-type welcome sign planned for Falmouth
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — If everything goes according to plan, Falmouth should, within the next 12 months, boast a welcome sign similar to those recently mounted in Montego Bay and Negril.
The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) is now in the initial phases of conceptualising the design for the welcome sign for the tourism resort town of Falmouth.
“We are just in the preliminary stages in terms of formulating what the concept will look like, as well as the placement. So everything isn’t formalised yet… not even the budget is finalised as yet,” Wade Mars, TPDCo executive director, told the Observer West.
“It is the same kind of concept as Montego Bay and Negril, but it will be unique in and of itself. It will take into account the sort of history and architecture of Falmouth,” Mars added.
On September 9, 2022, the first “Jam-Iconic Experience” sign was unveiled in Negril. The $12-million sign can be seen on the Hanover side of the resort town and includes lighting, landscaping, and palm trees.
There was controversy when Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett announced in November 2018 that a $17-million welcome sign would be built in Montego Bay in the roundabout near Sangster International Airport.
Ultimately, the Ministry of Tourism had to revise the sign’s cost to $14.7 million in response to political and public pressure.
While a price tag is not yet attached to the proposed Falmouth sign, Mars was quick to point out that the lettering attracts the least of the expenses for the entire project.
“I think the first thing perhaps people may not recognise straight off the bat is that it’s more than just the lettering that forms the cost. So the cost is an amalgamation of different things. The preparation of the area, retaining walls, lighting, landscaping, doing the concrete work; it is more than just the lettering itself. The lettering in itself is actually the least of the cost. Area preparation is significant,” he said.
The TPDCo head also pointed out that the welcome sign projects have been serving as attractions.
“It is an experience because a sign underplays what it really represents. People don’t necessarily go to see a sign. When they actually go to the place it is an attraction really. People take pictures, they interact with other individuals, they create their own postcard by visiting that location,” Mars argued.
Mayor of Falmouth and chairman of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation Councillor C Junior Gager blasted detractors who have been critical of the expenses that the Negril and Montego Bay signs attracted.
He said he is impressed by the initial sketch of the planned Falmouth sign.
“We cannot, in this modern time and age, be making a fuss about price because if you want good quality, something to last, it must come with a price. What I am interested in, and from what I have seen, is a good sign that depicts Trelawny and where we are coming from,” Gager said.
“I believe coming to Falmouth, coming off the highway, a sign is needed, and a sign of this magnitude too. Other parishes have been having it and, of course, you see what is happening with people going there, taking pictures; don’t you think the same thing will happen to Trelawny with people coming off the ships, coming from various areas, passing through [they] will stop to take a picture at this beautiful and well-designed welcome sign,” the mayor argued.
Mars, who noted that the Falmouth sign will be the third “in terms of that size and nature”, revealed that the project will be replicated across the island.
“I don’t necessarily want to preview exactly where we’re going to put them just yet. But there are plans for others, some bigger than even the Montego Bay experience or Negril, and some smaller,” he said.