MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is on a mission to reinvigorate Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, the former hip strip.
The plan is to transform the tourism-rich thoroughfare, once a month, with the sounds of pulsating music and a blur of activity that will make it hard to resist. Chamber President Oral Heaven hopes this will include a statue of the musical icon that will help generate the type of buzz he longs for on the strip.
"It will bring life to the hip strip. If you travel the world and you see how people operate in the main tourism area, or what they consider the hip strip like what we have, it's 24-hour buzzing activity — commerce is alive. We need that for the hip strip, starting out with 'Experience MoBay'," he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.
Experience MoBay will be launched during the three-day Commerce and Industry Expo set to run from November 4-6. It is expected to provide patrons with a glimpse of what the chamber has planned for the monthly events.
On November 5, as part of the launch, a stretch of road inside the Montego Bay Convention Centre will be converted into a mini version of the hip strip where patrons will get a feel of what is to come.
Heaven said while some details are still being worked out, the concept has been well received.
"We are having discussions with a number of players — including the [St James] Municipal Corporation, the business community of Montego Bay, the police — and basically everybody has welcomed that," he told the Observer. Local enterprises, he added, have been approached for sponsorship.
He is looking forward to seeing a statue of one of St James' most famous sons erected onthe road that bears his name.
"If we have that commercial area with such a living legend like Jimmy Cliff, wow. We have to push to have a Jimmy Cliff statue," he said.
Cliff, a native of Somerton in St James, has achieved worldwide fame for his music. His numerous hits include Many Rivers to Cross and Harder They Come; he also showed off his acting skills in the movie named after the latter.