Stakeholders in Falmouth eagerly await opening of $700-million artisan villageThursday, August 19, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
FALMOUTH, Trelawny - Stakeholders in the historic town of Falmouth are eagerly awaiting the commissioning of an artisan village — an immersive attraction created by The Port Authority of Jamaica at a cost of $700 million with funds from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) at the site of the old Hampden Wharf building in the town.
The unique attraction, which will portray the unique history of Falmouth, ought to accommodate Falmouth-owned, small and medium-sized enterprises that offer visitors locals entertainment, cuisine, art, craft, and culture. It is expected to open by year end.
“The story of the Neelys, Dutty Boukman, William Knibb…all of those stories you will be able to hear at the artisan village in Falmouth and see; that is one part,” explained director of Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation/Craft Development Institute, a division of TEF, Carol Rose Brown.
“This is a unique attraction that will offer an immersive experience that will not only tell the story of Falmouth, but tell the story of Falmouth in a space where you can meet the most unique artisans in the region, I believe. And we believe that this immersive experience, combined with entertainment and other kinds of details that will emerge, will make Falmouth a unique attraction.”
She stressed: “The word we want to associate with Falmouth is an immersive experience.”
According to Rose Brown, who is tasked with transforming the facility into the artisan village, the final phase of the project, which is the theming of the attraction, is now on in earnest.
“We have hired an architect to do the theming, we have identified the shopkeepers, we are in the process of rolling out the commercial components of the site. We should be open before the end of the year,” Rose Brown told the Jamaica Observer West.
She underscored that the role of the artisan village is to showcase the unique products that Jamaican artisans produce.
“In other words, there is going to be nothing that comes from overseas on show there. Everything you will come across there, like food or clothing or accessories, will be made here by Jamaicans,” she shared.
Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern Tova Hamilton is thrilled at the opportunity that will open up for local artisans to cater to visitors and locals alike.
“I am most excited about the opening of the artisan village because of what it will represent. The technology-infused design will have on full display, features of our rich heritage and culture and will give our ambassadors operating from that space the opportunity to showcase authentic Jamaican products,” Hamilton explained.
“Also, I am happy it will not just be for the benefit of tourists; locals will be able to experience the attraction.”
One individual, who claimed to be among those selected to operate at the facility, lauded the Ministry of Tourism for conceptualising the attraction.
“I am extremely delighted to be among those who will strut their stuff at the artisan village. Feeling really good about it and I am now expecting to see real returns for my talent,” said the individual, who did not want his identity to be revealed.
“There is always the cry that Falmouth doesn't have enough or any attraction, but now, with this new facility, the town will not only have an attraction, but it will be a first-class one.”
For his part, Mayor of Falmouth Councillor C Junior Gager argued that a signature attraction such as the artisan village is a welcome addition to the fast-growing tourism town.
“This facility will boost the tourism offerings of this historic town. This monumental attraction is greatly welcomed,” Gager remarked.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who conceptualised the project, pointed out that the facility will also provide “an environment for shopping that is conducive to more customer friendliness”.
“It's an idea that will change the way in which merchandising and presentation of our indigenous art is done, and particularly Jamaican artisans will have an opportunity to produce in ideal conditions, but more so to get greater value for their outputs,” the tourism minister argued.
Rose Brown added that the attraction will ultimately result in boosting tourism spend in the destination.
“The idea is to provide a facility in which these small micro enterprises have a chance of meeting visitors [and] offering them high quality products. Jamaica's visitor spend is very low, and the idea therefore is to provide high quality goods for them to buy so that they're not going to be paying US$1, US$2 for things, or US$5,” she contended.
“The other thing to remember is this institution is a public good, and it's a public good because the minister's responsibility is to attract private sector people, small and micro businesses to join the tourism value chain.”
Charles Ramdatt, a Falmouth native living in the US, welcomed the new attraction.
“The artisan village is a wonderful opportunity for locals to showcase their talents and to have reliable income streams. At the same time, it is a continuation of great efforts to make the town of Falmouth an even more attractive destination for visitors,” Ramdatt stated.
Meanwhile, a Trelawny hotel worker who only gave his name as Dwight expressed his hope that artisans from the parish will be among those selected to ply their trade at the facility.
“It is a good idea, but I hope that Trelawny people benefit from it. We don't want to see only outsiders inside,” he remarked.