Sun | Aug 20, 2017

HOPE for Ocho Rios - $3.7b earmarked for upgrade, $100m for market

Published:Saturday | May 6, 2017 | 5:00 AMCarl Gilchirst
The Ocho Rios Market and less than acceptable sections of the compound.

The resort town of Ocho Rios is to get a $3.7 billion upgrade, which Prime Minister Andrew Holness said is to start this year.

In the first in a series of town hall meetings dubbed HOPE for Jamaica, held at the Ocho Rios High School on Thursday night, Holness reiterated the ruling Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) commitment to further develop Ocho Rios. Asserting that the Government must take the lead in transforming the resort town, he said that $3.7 billion would be spent over a period of time.

Holness said that the Ocho Rios Market will get a $100 million upgrade through the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), beginning this year, that will transform it into a modern facility, similar to what obtains in other parts of the world.

"Market don't have to be a dirty place. Market don't have to be a congested place. Market don't have to be a place where you have to think twice to walk in the market. In other countries, the market is the place where people go for entertainment, they go to have lunch. It is an attraction," Holness said.

"Can you imagine the day when your market is an attraction; when the cruise ship people come off and they say, 'No, I don't want to go to Dunn's River Falls today, I want to go to the market'?

"Overall, we're going to spend $1.2 billion. This year, we're starting by spending $100 million on improving the market," he said.

Addressing the issue of craft, Holness said, "It is time we take a different view of craft and treat it as an important pillar of the tourism experience."

He said $80 million would be spent, starting this year, to begin construction of an artisan village in Ocho Rios. Holness said that $270 million would be spent on improving the promenade, while the Reynolds Pier will get a $2.5 billion upgrade.

He suggested that cruise shipping and the business process outsourcing sectors offered opportunities to create significant employment in St Ann.

Meanwhile, a male vendor at the market has welcomed the news that the Ocho Rios facility will get a $100 million upgrade.

He told The Gleaner yesterday morning that the compound was like a river whenever it rains.