TEF chairman wants progress on $1-b upgrade of Jimmy Cliff Blvd
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Godfrey Dyer is hoping the planned $1-billion upgrade of Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in Montego Bay will get underway this year.
The ambitious project was announced three years ago but has so far failed to get off the ground.
“I am hoping that something will happen. It’s just the Government process holding up things that you have to go through to get approval, but the architect has done their work and the engineer is now doing their part,” Dyer told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday when asked for an update.
“I really want to see something practical this year, I want to see something actual this year, and we are working towards that,” added Dyer.
The plan is for the area, once called the hip strip, to get new sidewalks, have its unsightly cables placed underground, and benefit from a general upgrade that will make it more aesthetically pleasing for locals and tourists who frequent the strip.
The TEF will provide funding for the project, and despite the delay Dyer said he does not think the $1-billion price tag has changed.
“[We are] not yet looking at a review of the figure. We still think it can go on at the same figure,” he said.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Robin Russell shares Dyer’s concern that the project has taken too long to get off the ground.
“We need to be executing some of these projects quicker than what is being done. I understand the need for oversight and rules of governance, but we really need to execute some of these projects on a more timely basis,” said Russell.
“We’ve met, we’ve been a part of the stakeholders’ consultations; in fact, we just got a survey this week, so I know it’s moving. But, like I said, I know it’s stuck in government procurement with contractors and engineers and all of these technical aspects of having a project come to fruition,” Russell added.
Like Dyer, he has high hopes for what the area will look like once it has been given the long-awaited facelift.
“Better lighting, aesthetically looking better, better products in terms of shopping and restaurants, but just an overall better experience for guests which would make them come out of the hotels more — which is what everybody wants,” said Russell, whose Deja Resorts is one of the hotels on the strip.
“Everybody wants the tourists to be on the road spending money, enjoying what Jamaica has to offer, and when you have a product like that, that’s what you are hoping to accomplish,” he added.
Russell anticipates that the refurbished Jimmy Cliff Boulevard will cement Montego Bay’s reputation as a tourist resort.
“You are going to end up with the hub of all entertainment being properly showcased, and where tourists can now come out on the Bottom Road to a better environment,” he said.