SILVERA BATS FOR SEX WORKERS
…wants red light district on MoBay's Hip StripThursday, June 24, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James - Prominent Montego Bay businesswoman Janet Silvera is recommending that part of the $150 million set aside to start preliminary work for a massive upgrade of the Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in the resort city be used to establish a designated area for prostitutes to operate.
“I hope that the money that is being put in the strip... I hope we will find a place in it to accommodate the ladies of the night. It is a fact that the women who service the strip at nights will always be there. We can't leave them out of the equation, they are an integral part of the strip,” said Silvera as she underscored that this was her position and not the position of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) which she serves as president.
The Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, formerly Gloucester Avenue, popularly called the Hip Strip, boasts a number of entertainment spots, gift shops and hotels, and is one of the most traversed areas by visitors to the resort city seeking entertainment.
Silvera noted that her position might not sit well with Government because prostitution is illegal, “but it is a profession that needs to be regularised”, she charged.
“It is the oldest profession in the world and it is something that nobody can stop. So if we are not going to stop it, at least give them somewhere where they don't seem as if they are harassing the tourists. If a man wants it he goes there and get it.”
Robin Russell, general manager of Deja Resorts, situated on the Hip Strip, expressed similar sentiments.
“I am not opposed to a red light district, but I can't see it being in the middle of the Hip Strip,” Russell told the Observer West.
“Jamaica is known to have a family destination, it's a full destination and all different people come to the Hip Strip… to put a red light district in the middle of it would brand it as such.”
Last week, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, during his sectoral debate presentation, announced that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) will be embarking on a massive upgrading project on the popular Hip Strip.
Citing the successful partnership between the TEF and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in the development of the Harmony Beach Park in Montego Bay, the tourism minister said the mega transformation plan, which was conceived in 2009, includes physical improvements, new product development, heavy landscaping, and 'pedestrianising' of the area.
“I am pleased to announce that the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the Tourism Product Development Company will be embarking on a major upgrading programme for the Montego Bay Hip Strip, with $150 million already set aside to commence preliminary work. The plan includes physical improvements, new product development, and substantial cooperation with the business community and other essential government ministries and agencies,” Bartlett told Parliament.
He forecast that, upon completion of the project, Montego Bay will be elevated “to the level of first-class destinations around the world” and “will rival the likes of South Beach, Miami”.
Silvera argued that the Hip Strip was yearning for the upgrade.
“The Hip Strip has been hungry for this type of investment, not that successive persons or Governments have not done anything about the strip, but what this shows is commitment to an industry that has been good to Jamaica,” she argued.
“What it will do is it will enhance a product that is already very popular among tourists that are coming to Jamaica. It will bring up the value of the strip itself and it will give them more offerings. The thing that it will do is it will bring back the Hip Strip to what it really should be. It has been quiet, one; two, it has been hit by COVID so this is a really welcomed injection to the 'Hip Strip.' I am happy that the Ministry of Tourism has decided to pump some life into the strip.”
Russell also welcomed the planned upgrade.
“Montego Bay is the capital of tourism in Jamaica, and having the Hip Strip — which is the heart of MoBay — looking good is very important. People come to MoBay for entertainment, for food... and if we can get the Hip Strip looking good then it really will put Jamaica in a good place,” argued Russell, who is first vice-president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA).
Ian Dear, chairman and CEO of Margaritaville and chairman of TPDCo, also welcomed the announcement of the multimillion-dollar upgrading project.
“I think it is long in coming to be honest. I think it is something that we have been looking forward to for a while, and we welcome the focus because the Hip Strip is an integral part of the tourism product for Jamaica and Montego Bay in particular. We welcome it for sure,” Dear told the Observer West.
PAGE THREE HEADLINE:Tourism industry players excited at proposed $150-m Hip Strip investment
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