... but Fal­mouth still awaits the big wind­fall

Jamaica Gleaner - - WESTERN FOCUS - Adrian Frater News Ed­i­tor

WHEN FOR­MER Prime Min­is­ter Bruce Gold­ing of­fi­cially opened the US$269-mil­lion cruise ship pier in Fal­mouth, Trelawny, on Tues­day, March 22, 2011, res­i­dents of the his­toric Ge­or­gian town could only en­vis­age one thing – pros­per­ity in their im­me­di­ate and long-term fu­ture.

Dur­ing the pier’s two-year con­struc­tion phase, the res­i­dents were fed a con­stant nar­ra­tive that there would be sig­nif­i­cant spin-offs for them. As a con­se­quence, many busi­ness oper­a­tors heeded the ad­vice to give their busi­nesses a facelift in keep­ing with the town’s new look, which in­cluded the pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion of the town’s cen­tre, Wa­ter Square.

In fact, just two months af­ter Oa­sis of the Seas, with its 6,000 pas­sen­gers and 2,000 crew mem­bers, be­came the first cruise ves­sel to dock in Fal­mouth, the town’s then Mayor Colin Gager was al­ready giv­ing cruise ship­ping a pass­ing grade.

“Busi­ness is thriv­ing and new em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are open­ing up,” Gager told The Gleaner. “The town is now opened up to the world, and I am just ab­so­lutely de­lighted about it.”

Now, some five years later, the dream of vast sums of money flow­ing into the town’s cof­fers has been re­placed by much frus­tra­tion as, ac­cord­ing to Den­nis Mead­ows, the Ja­maica Labour Party’s care­taker for North Trelawny, the pier has be­come like an oa­sis in a desert for the res­i­dents.

NO NOTE­WOR­THY AT­TRAC­TIONS

“While the cruise ship pier con­tin­ues to show im­pres­sive ar­rival fig­ures, the ben­e­fits are not reach­ing the peo­ple and it is now a source of much dis­en­chant­ment,” said Mead­ows, who thinks weak lead­er­ship and a fail­ure to im­ple­ment crit­i­cal plans are to be blamed for the ex­ist­ing sit­u­a­tion.

Un­like other cruise ship towns like Mon­tego Bay and Ocho Rios, which have mar­quee at­trac­tions to en­tice vis­i­tors, Fal­mouth has no at­trac­tions of note. As a con­se­quence, in­stead of stay­ing in the town, cruise ship pas­sen­gers are swiftly ‘bussed’ away to des­ti­na­tions in St James and St Ann to en­joy their at­trac­tions.

The res­i­dents of Fal­mouth were re­cently given yet an­other rea­son to be­lieve that there might still be a sil­ver lin­ing on the hori­zon for them through an an­nounce­ment than an ar­ti­san vil­lage is to be cre­ated in the town.

Dur­ing a re­cent Recog­ni­tion and

Awards cer­e­mony in Fal­mouth for the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Amer­i­can States Tourism, Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment Com­pany Craft En­hance­ment Project, Tourism Min­is­ter Ed­mund Bartlett promised that an ar­ti­san vil­lage is to be cre­ated in the Trelawny par­ish cap­i­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the ar­ti­san vil­lage will be a one-stop fa­cil­ity where vis­i­tors can see the cre­ation and mer­chan­dis­ing of craft items, while en­joy­ing authen­tic Ja­maican en­ter­tain­ment and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties.

The ar­ti­san vil­lage will also pro­vide an av­enue for Ja­maican artists and crafts­men to ex­pose their cre­ativ­ity by pro­duc­ing unique in­dige­nous items, thus lim­it­ing the vol­ume of im­ported craft items that are be­ing sold in the in­dus­try.

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